Now you see me. (Click) Now you don’t.
The dark makes us all cringe in some way, shape, or form. Since the origin of mankind’s existence, we’ve sought out ways to escape the discomforting feeling of darkness and unknown frightful things it conceals. Torches, candles, all sorts of lamps, headlights, flashlights, flares… Shit, in some instances, even black lights matter! Anything to serve as weapon against a blackout.
Director David F. Sandberg’s short (one of many) LIGHTS OUT (’13) taps into that same kind of fright. The only thing is that there is something that lurks in the darkness. A sinister soul that preys on your fears. What it is exactly cannot be described in this YouTube sensation, but rest assured it’ll shiver you up as this piece grips you within its coils of intense creepiness. Millions of views later, Hollywood comes knocking on his door and so sparks a production (distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures) on how to start fleshing this piece out into a feature length horror. Here we are three years later and LIGHTS OUT (the official full-length version) is working up quite a praise for Sandberg’s big time directorial debut.
The narrative presents us to Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), whose little brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), experiences the same events that once tested her sanity. Rebecca works up the courage to unlock the truth behind the terror, which in turn, brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie (Maria Bello). But as she gets closer to unlocking the truth, there is no denying that all their lives are in danger, especially when the lights go out!
If we’ve seen darkness play a major role in horror flicks once, we’ve seen it a hundred times. Especially among those whose narratives particularly are designed based on darkness (DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2010), DARKNESS FALLS (2003)). The difference between others and LIGHTS OUT? LIGHTS OUT plays off a smarter, swifter script that exposes relatable characters and the distressing vulnerabilities once confronted by a troubled soul haunting them in the most malicious ways ever.
High on psychological creepiness, and low on cliché jump-scares, as a whole, the enticing layout of fear plays very well throughout the film. Although it comes off a bit rushed, at a run time of an hour-and-twenty minutes, for what it’s worth, it holds up as best it can with its sinister appeal as it taps into the dangerous of darkness. Sandberg has a good concept when presenting horror, and without doubt enjoys playing with your psyche. And that’s good considering horror flicks of today lacking that fear factor appeal of yesteryears. Holding the fright flick festivities down at the moment would be James Wan (LIGHTS OUT producer), but with Sandberg among Hollywood radar, I can see some solid scares directed by him in the future. Keep an eye out for him, horror-maniacs.
Grade: A / Genre: Horror / Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 1:21
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman
Directed by: David F. Sandberg