Plot: There IS a boogeyman (boogeywoman?) hiding in the shadows, wanting to kill you.
Cast/Crew: Directed by David F. Sandberg (adapting his short film of the same name) and produced by James Wan (SAW, The Conjuring), starring Teresa Palmer (Grudge 2, Warm Bodies), Gabriel Bateman (Jack in American Gothic) and Alexander DiPersia (small part in I Am Legend).
Thoughts on the film:
• It’s total shock-horror bait, but Lights Out has an incredibly strong start! Awesome shock-horror cold open set in a poorly lit warehouse. It gets the gimmick over ASAP – there’s a contorted, ghostly female stalking thing with scissor hands, that only appears in the dark. The first victim literally turns on and off the lights to get the gimmick over. Great immediately anticipation from a very simple premise of being scared of the dark. Running for cover is no good, rattling of doorknobs, opening of doors. All tops. Unfortunately the kill is a letdown as it’s mainly just pulling people into the darkness. (Gotta keep down the rating – it’s PG-13 sadly)
• Quick question, what kind of warehouse manager installs spotlights rather than diffuse lighting? It’s not even cost efficient!
• The stalking thing is Diana, a spectre of a psychiatric patient thought to have been killed, and was the mother (Sophie’s) friend. She’s able to come about/ hang around when her mother is off her antidepressants.
• The overarching plot is that the daughter (Rebecca) split after the husband left town, and the mom was left alone to raise a young boy (Martin). He starts getting haunted by Diana, so the prodigal daughter comes back with her boyfriend to figure it all out.
• Initially Rebecca takes little Martin away. When he gets his stuff, the adjacent door creaks open. Shit, haunting during the day cycle!
• In general though, that kid is doing great considering his old dad left, his new dad was murdered, and the mom has an evil spirit in the gaf!
• Child services come to Rebecca’s place and tell her to give the child back. “I can be a responsible guardian” she retorts. Child services lady looks around – death metal posters and a bong, rolling her eyes so hard she’s the Undertaker. Fuck right off!
• The film is quite blunt drawing parallels with battling mental condition “get mom better and kill the monster!” However the finish to the movie doesn’t jive well with this message.
• The thrust and reason to watch it the film is based on the simple premise that there’s a murderous apparition about in low/no light – even pockets of darkness. With that she’ll turn off the power and misdirect to try get ya. It feels kinda cheap/teenager bait but there’s no denying it’s effectiveness.
• The exposition makes it feel a lot like The Ring, Diana was a young girl with long straight black hair over her face in a ward gown. Samara was also institutionalised and haunts a blonde mother and daughter in their wooden house, uncovering new information leading you back into the house but a new part. It’s not a direct match but I couldn’t help thinking of it. Much like the boyfriend in The Ring, I gave the flaky wise-ass boyfriend no chance he survives this movie!
• They were a bit shaky on what made Diana evil. She had a (light-sensitive) skin condition but not this supernatural mind-altering gimmick. Perhaps vengeance for dying during light therapy.
• About halfway through the film to learn to bring extra forms of light – including a hand-crank torch, good job! Whats best for a horror film though? A single candle! Also let’s instantly all split up and check it out! I did like the large blacklight though. I thought it’d be hilarious if they ran it over her clothes maybe. Would’ve killed the film though 😛
• The actress from the short is the first victim (in a similar role – getting the lights on/off gimmick over)
• It grossed $147m on a budget of under $5m – well done!
• Film opens in a mannequin warehouse (which is ripe for horror!) but the payoff comes late into the film and isn’t great. (you’d expect the opposite)
• I hate when people talk after having sex tons of times, but are fully clothed. It’s such Hollywood bollocks!
• I wonder if Avenged Sevenfold financed part of this movie as their poster is on screen for about 15 seconds straight.
• Little bro to Rebecca “I should stay the night.” Her boyfriend retorts (as he got turned down asking the same thing) “Best of luck buddy”. Ha!😂
• Martin’s a real dickhead in a time of peril. Rebecca “He didn’t leave!” Martin “You did”. Hey fuck you!
• I always love when police arrive at the scene of the crime when the horror movie is still happening, and they must take on the spectre. That’s great stuff.
Overall: I’m actually quite impressed with this jumpscare movie – it’s based on a simple but effective premise: A boogeyman in the dark. It bloody works! Not going to win any awards for writing/acting/storyline etc and relying on only jumpscares makes it feel a bit cheap at times, but it rises above what should’ve been just an 80-minute version of a 3 minute short. Good stuff!
Here’s the original short (beware, the director uploaded it in 2005 YouTube quality)