Lights Out (2016)
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Written by Eric Heisserer based on Sandberg’s short film.
Starring Theresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia and Billy Burke.
UK Cinema release – August 19th
What’s it all about? Martin isn’t sleeping and it’s not because he lives on Elm Street. His Mum has a friend called Diana, who isn’t exactly…well, alive. Martin calls on his big sister Rebecca for help and she soon realises the nightmares she had as a kid were real. With her kinda, sorta boyfriend in tow, they start digging into the mystery of the scary woman who lurks in the shadows.
Keep those lights on.
David F. Sandberg makes his feature début here, basing it on his own 2013 short of the same name. It’s a basic premise, the fear of the dark and, although it’s not a perfect film, he delivers a solid entry into the genre.
It starts off well, quickly introducing the characters and set up. We are on our way, without pause for thought. Thankfully, it’s not rushed. Sandberg knows how to build tension and hold an audiences attention. Though the film feels padded in places, there are some genuine jumps and real tension where it’s needed. The story gets a bit silly, producing a couple of unintentional giggles with some shaky dialogue, but it’s not enough to spoil the experience.
Production value is high with nice visuals, great use of sound and Diana, our creepy, dark loving, light hating spooky woman, is very well realised. On top of that the films cast really deliver. Gabriel Bateman, as Martin, is a likeable young actor, conveying fear of Diana and love for his going a bit cuckoo Mum, Sophie, played by Bello, who manages her role well, never going too far with the crazy.
Theresa Palmer, as Martin’s sister Rebecca, makes for a credible heroine. She takes the biggest emotional journey of all the characters in play going from an emotionally repressed screw up to someone who is ready to give everything to save her little brother. Rebecca leads the fight, taking with her Bret, DiPersia, who is trying hard to win her heart. Bret could have been a messy, annoying chap, but, DIPersia plays his part nicely and has the two best moments in the whole movie. You’ll know them when they come.
Overall, it’s a good, solid film achieving what it sets out to do. Likeable performances, a few jumps and a creepy spook.
You might think twice about looking in your closet.