Film Review: Lights Out

After seeing the awesome trailer for Lights Out, I was very excited.  Hearing that James Wan is connected to the project made me want to see it even more.  So upon its release I headed to the cinema, sat in the dark and waited to jump out of my seat. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting.

Future Horror Films - Lights Out

Lights Out is about a supernatural being who lurks in the shadows and preys upon a family, forcing the estranged daughter to uncover their terrifying past.

This film is based upon the incredibly popular short of the same name by the same director, David Sandberg.  Now, I commend him for taking the chance and extending his short into a full length film (well, 81 minutes anyway) but I can’t help thinking he should have gone for an original idea.  I guess that wasn’t an option though!  By the way, If you haven’t yet seen the short version, check it out below:

Lights Out certainly has some nice moments, such as the opening being reminiscent of Maniac. There was also some genuinely tense scenes, such as in Rebecca’s bedroom with the red “tattoo” light, and Rebecca having to use a wind-up torch instead of one that is battery-operated.

Her brother, Martin, is also utterly cute and convincingly scared, and the scene where Diana (the supernatural being) is crouched over him on the couch was certainly creepy.

However, I did have some problems with the film:

  • It wasn’t made clear that time had passed between the dad being killed and the main action kicking off
  • Rebecca uncovers the truth about Diana too early and too easily
  • Rebecca mentions that she has work in the morning, but never goes.  In fact, nobody goes to work. Ever
  • Diana sounds a bit like Smeagol from The Lord of the Rings
  • Every so often it looked like Teresa Palmer (Rebecca) was wearing a wig. It could just be me seeing things but I swear her hair was darker and her hairline looked weird…
  • I felt there wasn’t enough substance to turn this short into a feature. A similar struggle is displayed in Jon Watts’ Clown
  • I saw the ending a mile off

However, the biggest problem I have with Lights Out is the massive prejudice against Rebecca’s character and the way she is represented as “damaged”.  She has rock/metal/alternative culture-based posters all over her room, wears gothic clothing and jewellery, and has obviously self-harmed.

Lights out

The portrayed suggestion that a bad childhood, or a tragic event turns people to this “dark world”, where everyone takes drugs, self-harms and is clearly wrong, grossly outdated and horribly irresponsible. I may be being too sensitive but this isn’t the first time this prejudice has been displayed in a film.  And it needs to stop.

Overall, Lights Out gave me major feels for Darkness Falls (which I have already proclaimed my love for) as the premise is very similar but, I think, works much better. Yes, it has some nice moments but overall lets down its audience.

The best bits of the film can be seen in the trailer, so maybe watch that a couple of times in a dark room and then call it quits.  Or wait for Annabelle 2…  It’s got to be better than the first one.  Right?

By Catherine Dunn (@toodamncat)

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