OLD SCHOOL REVIEW: Light's Out
If you’ve seen the horror shorts Attic Panic, Not So Fast, and Pictured, you clearly are no stranger to director David F. Sandberg - and, if you’re no stranger to him and his work, you’ve clearly seen his famous short film Lights Out, which was released in 2013. The simplistic, little dialogue of a short film caught the attention of James Wan and others at New Line Cinema, giving Sandberg the opportunity to expand his short film, into a feature.
The feature of Lights Out stays true to its roots, and somehow manages to still have the audience biting at their nails with the continuous use of one single, repetitive type of scare - flickering the lights.
The film starts off the same as the original short does, with Lotta Losten (Sandberg’s wife, who stars in the original), flickering the lights off and on, and getting creeped out by a mysterious female figure. The only difference is that we’re in a textile factory not an apartment, and the poor soul to lose their life is the owner, Paul.
The story picks up following Paul’s family: his skittish son Martin (Gabriel Bateman), his loner-esque stepdaughter Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), and his extremely mentally ill widow Sophie (Maria Bello). Though you would expect it to be the child who has the creepy imaginary friend, like most horror movies do, it is actually the mother who proceeds to stand in the darkness talking to her friend Diana - who is never seen within the light, merely the shadows.
Creeped out by all of this, Martin begins losing sleep which causes his school to reach out to his sister. She along with her loving, yet derby, boyfriend Bret (Alexander DiPersia), pick Martin up from school and proceed to invite him to stay the night. Martin retells his horrors to Rebecca who slowly remembers her encounters with the entity Diana, and from there Rebecca begins to piece together the mystery behind her mother’s relationship with the shadowy demon.
Through a campy and classic horror manner, Sandberg and screenwriter Eric Heisserer, work together to bring out all possible ways to stop Diana from attacking - by keeping the lights on. When this doesn’t work, as it clearly would not, the climax begins. Cinematographer Marc Spicer, does an excellent job at keeping us close and personal with the characters, and an even better job at having the audience pay attention to every little shadow and light that appears within the frame.
The film has comedic moments which hopefully are meant to be. Whether it’s the quick snap of a dialogue, or the amazing escape performance done by DiPersia, this film can have you giggling one second and screaming for the character’s lives the next. Palmer does an exquisite job as the lead of the film - her ending performance is one that is truly emotional and raw. Her take on being a horror lead is done with charm and strength. Bello’s performance as the mentally ill mother is brutally beautiful to watch. As her character slowly unfolds, it’s apparent that she truly loves her children by the end and wants only the best for them - to be free from Diana’s haunting. Bateman, as the youngster of the film, does a great job at being concerned and scared - his strength is also very admirable, and shall not go overlooked after seeing the film. However, like stated before, DiPersia nails a rather long escape scene that makes for a fantastic movie going experience.
If Sandberg’s goal for the film was to have people screaming of terror, laughing from the small bits of humor, and cheering as the characters make the proper (and sometimes cliche) horror decisions, consider this film an A+.
My Personal Rating: 4.5/5