With a simple concept and having taken inspiration from classics such as The Ring, is Lights Out a one trick pony? Diarmaid McCaffrey finds out...
It’s one of the most universally shared experiences in life. You wake up in the middle of the night and think you see a figure standing there silently staring down at you.
However, then you blink, and the figure is gone and it turns out your mysterious, shadowy stalker is just your tired, sleepy eyes playing tricks on you.
The concept of Lights Out is rather a simple one. What happens when that figure isn’t a trick of the mind and there actually is a ghost waiting for your guard to go down?
Starting life as a three minute short video on YouTube (which has over a million views), Director David F Sandberg somewhat surprisingly, given how creatively bankrupt the horror genre is, manages to take a three minute YouTube video and extend it into a legitimately enjoyable tense 80-minute roller coaster.
Obviously taking some inspiration from Japanese horror movies like The Ring, Lights Out focuses on Sophie, a single mother (Maria Bello) whose forced to confront demons from another plain of existence that is stalking her son Martin (Gabriel Bateman).
Trying to help her brother is Rebecca (Teresa Palmer); our typical rebellious older sister who drinks and smokes and now has to come to terms with the idea of being responsible.
Is it a one trick pony? Unfortunately, asking for a horror movie with a third dimension is maybe asking too much in this day and age, but it milks its one trick for all it is worth.
It mostly relies on its special effects and its rather unsettling expected gloomy lighting, not to mention jump scares galore, which seem to happen every twenty minutes, and as a result, they lose their effect fairly quickly without any substance.
Sandberg though makes an attempt to give these characters a personality and demons to fight instead of the a-typical blank slates that are only there to be killed off that we’ve seen in every horror movie.
Admittedly, some of that development goes out the window towards the end of the movie, but it’s a film that certainly brings the scares and doesn’t resort to straight up gore to do so.
However, while it gets rather dull in places. Its simple plot is more than a little effective.