David F. Sandberg’s feature debut Lights Out is a fun horror movie for those who like jump scares. The central idea is great, even if the overall film does not always live up to this.
There is something that attacks in the dark. Rebecca is pulled out of her independent world and back into family life when her younger brother is experiencing terrifying events at home. Rebecca wonders whether it is the same entity which plagued her younger years…
Lights Out is based on director David F. Sandberg’s short film of the same name. It is easy to see why the premise would work in a short film. The idea of something that only attacks in the dark taps into fundamental, prepubescent fears. It is certainly an idea worthy of exploration.
The problem with the film lies in the way in which the idea is executed. As Lights Out progresses, it feels the need to explain origin of the horror to viewers. This is understandable, as the supernatural activity needs a framework. Nevertheless, this detracts from the horror, and the plotting starts to feel lazy.
The opening sequence works very well as a set piece. There are also other sequences in the film that are finely executed. However, Lights Out is let down by the lazy characterisation and some poor dialogue. The very end of the film has an odd tone; given what has transpired, the characters seem to be less traumatised than expected.
Teresa Palmer delivers a suitable performance as Rebecca. Gabriel Bateman is decent as Martin, whilst Alexander DiPersia has to deliver some hokey dialogue as Bret. Maria Bello is well cast, even though she is better than the material.
Lights Out is the classic horror trope of having a better premise than screenplay. There are some good scares, but horror aficionados will want more.