Lights Out – ‘Obi’ Wan’s Padawan nails it!!
I was really looking forward to seeing Lights Out. The latest offering from James Wan’s (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious) stable of horror movies clearly displays the maestro’s fingerprints . However, while certain imagery within Lights Out clearly bears the ‘Wan’ mark, the overall feel and style of the movie tells me he was happy to let new Director David F Sandberg work with a fair bit of freedom, and it is to both their credits that Lights Out emerges as a stylish, tense horror film that lifts the horror genre out of its current state of doldrums (read The Forest and The Darkness as just two examples of why the horror genre desperately needs a hero) and back toward some semblance of respectability.
Lights Out is based on Director David Sandberg’s short film by the same title. It’s a wonderfully terrifying premise, based on our most primal fears of the dark. Diana, a malevolent presence made real by the ailing mind of her childhood friend Sophie, can only exist in darkness. She will do all she can to isolate Sophie and to keep her mind in a weakened state to ensure her own continued existence. When Sophie’s family (husband Paul, daughter Rebecca and son Martin) threaten Diana’s hold, she turns violent. It’s a simple story, but works wonderfully well.
There is some great tension throughout, especially the film’s openning (watch for David Sandberg’s wife, Lotta Losten, playing Paul’s assistant Esther. She was the star of the original short film) and final act, which also provides some great suspense and moments of both horror and humour.
The cast is great, but I would pay special kudos to Teresa Palmer as Rebecca and Alexander DiPersia as her boyfriend, Bret. The portrayal and building of their relationship within the overall story arc is actually a masterstroke, and provides a wealth of opportunities to build Rebecca’s character to the point that we genuinely immerse ourselves in her story. That we begin to care about both herself and her little brother, Martin, is something sadly lacking from many movies today (not just horror) and it is to the films credit that this element of the plot was so well utilised.
Plus, Bret is an absolutely lovable character, and in the scenes in which he is forced to take on Diana himself you will find yourself cheering him on and hoping for a positive outcome.
See Lights Out, whether you love horror movies or just movies in general. It has been crafted with love, written with care and presented to us in a manner befitting the name James Wan.