Film Review: Lights Out

Lights Out

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.

Film Review: Abduction

As an action thriller, Abduction sits at the cheesy end of the scale. Notwithstanding, John Singleton’s film is still an enjoyable enough ride.

Nathan is a regular teenager attending high school, who has a crush on his neighbour. When searching online for a school project, Nathan discovers his picture on a website for missing children. He confronts his mother about it, but there is a knock on the door before she is able to provide any details…

Abduction focuses on a fascinating concept; discovering your parents are not who they say they are. Rather focusing on the enormity of this revelation, the film is a faced-paced action thriller. John Singleton deftly directs the film’s action sequences. They are often frenetic, and work well to engage the audience.

The plot of Abduction borders on fantastic, and occasionally leaps over this line. Viewers are required to suspend their disbelief for the twists that ensue. This is not necessarily a bad thing; the silliness is rather enjoyable. Nonetheless, those with a healthy dose of scepticism may find the film tiring.

Where the film descends into a cheese-fest is in its dialogue. There is a palpable corniness to the film, particularly the budding relationship between Nathan and Karen. Even in other aspects of the film, the cheesiness breaks through. The flashback sequences late in the film are hard to take seriously.

Abduction sometimes comes across as a children’s television show masquerading as a spy thriller. The film is riddled with espionage clichés, acting almost how it thinks a thriller of this nature should behave. The film is filled with spurious incidents; it is essential that concentrate on the action rather than the plot in order to see the fun in Abduction.

Abduction is clearly a vehicle for Twilight star Taylor Lautner. The film has a 12A certificate, which reflects the intended audience. The main characters are teenagers; again reflecting who the filmmakers think the movie will appeal to. Notwithstanding, the film is quite violent at times, and these scenes may be unsuitable for young viewers.

Performances in Abduction vary. The film features a well-known cast, including Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina and Maria Bello. While Bello and Molina are decent, Weaver does not match her usual standard. Taylor Lautner is adequate as lead Nathan, while Lily Collins fulfils the love interest role with her natural beauty.

Abduction is far fetched, and does not have a lot going for it in the narrative department. But the action sequences are entertaining, and overall the film is sufficiently distracting.