Written by: Wesley Thomas
What originally started as a short film – a rather chilling, impressive one – has now become a full-length movie. I had high hopes for this feature as I really enjoyed the short. And the movie didn’t disappoint.
In short, Rebecca must uncover the horror behind her younger brother’s terrifying encounters with an unnerving and creepy being. This forces Rebecca to relive some disturbing and upsetting childhood memories of her own.
With a complex family situation, we delve into the mystery of a creature that can only attack in the dark. Shine a flashlight on them, or turn on a light, and they disappear. But the second that source of light goes out, it will get you!
Teresa Palmer (Rebecca) takes the lead with some terrific acting, portraying a truly sympathetic and empathetic older sister torn between protecting her younger brother and saving her mother. Despite her obvious beauty, this girl can act. Too often, movies only care about the appearance of their performers. If they look the part, that’s all that matters, disregarding the importance convincing performances have on the story. Palmer shattered this genre convention by giving us a sensational portrayal of Rebecca that didn’t relent for a second. Her commitment to the role was obvious. She guided us through the story with frightening grace.
Gabriel Bateman (Martin) didn’t do bad either, hacking through the plot with a vulnerability that made us nervous and emotionally attached to the young boy. Putting a child against such scariness, I feel, makes the horror all the more unsettling. He’s a boy, what can he do? How can he defend himself? Then you can’t help but be compassionate towards him, given his difficult home life.
And of course, we can’t leave out the mother, Sophie (Maria Bello) who a few will recognize from ‘Demonic’ and ‘Coyote Ugly’. Her acting chops are superb, exposing us to a shaken, anxious woman struggling to cope with her life. Yet despite her inner and outer demons, her maternal instincts are admirable and give the story teeth. There was nothing but realism in her interpretation of a suffering mother, subtle yet explosive.
As for the director and writer, David F. Sandberg, known for some brilliantly spooky short films, this movie was his feature debut. I strongly believe – and hope – we’ll be seeing a lot more from him soon.
David respected the genre, and the audience, by avoiding monotonous and irritating genres cliches. He made this monster, along with the rules of horror, and exploited that in unique and compelling ways.
Everything, from the cinematography, soundtrack, effects, costume, script, and pace, all hit the mark. Overall, ‘Lights Out’ is a cleverly crafted, passionately produced, perfectly rendered horror movie that ticks all the boxes. I highly recommend you watch it. It’s currently available to rent from Redbox from $1.50!