“Lights Out” (2016)
Running Time: 81 minutes
Director: David F. Sandberg
Featuring: Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman, Billy Burke, Alexander DiPersia
Martin: “I’ve been sleeping with the lights on. Every time I turn them off there’s this woman, she doesn’t like the light.”
Its refreshing going to the movies and seeing a horror film that is not a sequel, a remake or a rip-off. It is one of the great genres but in most cases is reductive, sexist or boring. In the case of the new film by writer/director David F. Sandberg, I can happily report that he and writer Eric Heisserer have created a new horror character that is both original and scary and left me wanting more.
The film involves siblings who find out they have been haunted by the same entity years apart, and have to come together along with their mother to defeat it. The human mind plays a large part in this story, the fragile thing that it is, but it also illustrates the strength of family and support to help fight for a family member with a crippling mental illness.
Martin is being terrified by a dark supernatural entity known as ‘Diana’ (Alicia Vela-Bailey) an entity who seems to have a special relationship with his mother, Sophie (Maria Bello) who does not seem to care about the situation at all. In a desperate attempt at seeking help Martin reaches out to older half sister Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), in fact he wants to leave his mother and live with Rebecca permanently.
It turns out that ‘Diana’ is very real and used to haunt Rebecca when she was younger, to cope she put it down to very bad dreams and repressed it. It seems to have an effect as in her current life she will not let anyone get to close to her, particularly boyfriend Bret (Alexander DiPersia) who would like to take their relationship to the next level. From here the film moves into high gear and follows the normal horror formula, but the originality is in the creation of ‘Diana”, something I can see working in multiple sequels, particularly if the reputation of the film keeps growing the way it has.
Very rarely can you say you saw the beginning of something special, some examples are the first Jeepers Creepers, A Nightmare on Elm Street and even the first Saw film. At some point these franchises burn themselves out, but in the case of “Lights Out” there is a chance to start something really special in cinema, especially with the origin story that is revealed in the movie.
The film is co-produced by James Wan, the Director of such horror megahits as Saw (2004), Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2013), Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016). When you know your stuff you really know it, and Wan has embraced his horror roots, his signature can be seen all over this film, as with his other films it is highly personal, family orientated and scary.
This is also the kind of film that anyone over the age of thirteen can enjoy, there are mostly jump scares and little actual gore to be frightened by, however it is best seen with a group, as the feedback from the audience enhances the experience. Slumber parties will never be the same again.