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Lights Out Review


Way back in 2013, director David F. Sandberg and his producer/wife Lotta Losten made the short horror film Lights Out for the Who’s There film competition. While it failed to win said competition, it soon went viral at which point Hollywood came calling. Three years later, and Lights Out hits the big screen, stretching out the originals premise to tell the story of  a fractured family, torn apart by mother Sophie's (Maria Bello) mental illness and her ‘imaginary’ friend Diana, a very real and very possessive spirit that can only exist in darkness. When Sophie’s estranged daughter Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) attempts to rescue her brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) and help her brother on the way back to sanity, she finds herself firmly in Diana’s sights.

From the very first frame, Lights Out screams out of the traps with an incredibly creepy opening scene that lays out the film unique premise for all to see. For his feature debut, Sandberg has a great handle on proceedings, squeezing every last drop of tension out of the refreshingly unique premise. He and screenwriter Eric Heisserer take some well worn horror tropes and weave an incredibly unsettling story around them, Sophie’s mania adding a fresh wrinkle to the story of ghost story we’ve seen many times before even if a second act info dump slows the movie down quite a bit, and the sheer amount of backstory thrown at us in these scenes, along with some hokey dialogue, threaten to derail the movie. However, some very strong performances from the core cast help bolster proceedings, especially Bello and Palmer, who brings a much harder edge than usual to the typical horror movie heroine.

Diana proves to be of the best original movie monsters in recent memory, her ability to be anywhere where the light can’t touch leads to a dense fog of tension being draped over proceedings, and while the argument can be made for Sandberg leaning too heavily on jump scares as the end credits beckon, they don’t take away from the movie’s ability to make an entire audience unbearably uneasy. Every dark corner and shadowy hallway becomes something to afraid of, and as the lean 81 minutes marches on, Sandberg comes up with some inspired ways to keep the story fresh, from black lights to muzzle flashes, as Rebecca takes the fight to Diana, leading to a barn buster of a third act. This final sequence further twists the screws, relentless in its execution as Diana takes her menacing of our heroine to the next level, and Sandberg exploits everything the premise has to offer to its fullest.

The last few years have been great for the horror genre, and Lights Out continues this trend with an unsettling, chilling experience that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema. Prepare to be scared of the dark again!!!


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The Movie Bit: Lights Out Review
Lights Out Review
The Movie Bit
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