Lights Out Movie Review

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by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"

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Writer: Eric Heisserer
Director: David F. Sandberg
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Billy Burke, Alicia Vela-Bailey
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr 21 mins
Genre: Horror
Country/Language: USA/English 
Year: 2016
How To See It: Out on DVD/Blu-ray & VOD

3 years ago a horror short film called "Lights Out" broke ground in its approach to how scare people. With no gore. No blood. Just fear. The film was entered into a contest and immediately went viral! What I absolutely adored about that short that was so integral to its success was its motivation in exploring the dark and people's response and reaction to it. I think so many people are afraid of the dark because of they have fear of the unknown. Not knowing what's inside that dark. What may be lurking within, waiting to get to us. The short I was so effective! I'm more akin to watching films either on my TV or in the theater. However I wasn't able to see it on either so I had to resort to watching it on my computer. Even then it terrified me. As a person with an over active imagination, my mind went into overdrive as it was the longest 3 minutes of my life. The anticipation between each scared was like a slow turning vice grip waiting to crush your nerves!

I felt its director, David Sandberg, really captured a tone that squeezed as much fear out of people as possible, and he did so successfully! I have mixed emotions about its full length adaptation though starring Maria Bello, Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman. There are things I loved about it and things that I wished hadn't been put in it and felt were unnecessary. Let's break this down: In the short. There was no plot. There was a scary scenario that included this being, this entity, this figure that appeared whenever the lights were turned off, and it would come get you in the dark. The feature film on the other hand I felt like the story was forced. They gave a name to that figure in the shadows, her name is Diana. And although she is painted as a person, a friend, by the mom (played by Maria Bello); the way she is portrayed and the way she acts when we do see her is more of a creature, a monster. Sometimes real and can be seen by others, sometimes invisible and seems to play out as a figment of the mom's imagination. I guess the question is: Was this all written and directed on purpose, or was it all just part of bad rushed writing? Or maybe perhaps it should be left up to us to decide what you think of the character of Diana! I couldn't see it as anything other than a bad flaw in the film. I don't feel the story was fully developed yet. There were a lot of holes in it.

 

I loved the family dynamic between the mom and the daughter, the mom and the step son, and the older step sister and the younger step brother. I felt that brought some very rich dramatic performances. Although I wish there had been more. The film had some solid scares in it but overall it felt like the film was holding back. It was a very light PG-13 horror film. It felt like it was too timid to go the extra mile with the scares and violence. I also felt the film didn't know whether it wanted to be a supernatural horror, a creature feature, or psychological horror piece. At the end of the day, I gave it a once over and saw it, and that has sufficed for me. I just personally feel like it works better as a short film than a feature, and I honestly cannot picture myself seeing the feature multiple times though. Even so, I urge all of you to see it at least once and decide for yourself whether you're fan who would see it more than once, or not. I have provided the short below!

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