The years between 2000-2007 were not exactly stellar for horror movies. Of course there were a few gems that came though such as Jeepers Creepers and What Lies Beneath but they were outnumbered by horror features that only reached a kind of middling level that made them come and go. American remakes of The Ring and The Grudge, Darkness Falls are just but a few of those.
In 2013 director David Sandberg produced a short movie that scared many internet users around the globe. The premise of that was very simple, a concept that was later transferred into it’s bigger brother, titled Lights Out which got its UK release last Friday. But does it fare any better? The short and simple answer? No. And deserverdly so.
For those that do not know the plot synopsis, here goes:
A young boy learns that his older sister experienced some traumatic paranormal experiences when she was younger. The same ones that he is currently undergoing whilst living with his mother! At first they blame their single parent, who has a history of mental illness, but the further they dig the more they realise that what they are experiencing is very much real and they soon find themselves fighting for their lives!
The reason for mentioning the earlier era in the opening of this movie review is because Sandberg seems to have a certain love for that era of horror movie making despite the fact that it wasn’t received very well by audiences. If we backtrack just a little bit and go back to the mention of Darkness Falls, it appears that Sandberg or whoever thought that nobody would notice that a lot of the narrative was ripped right out of that movie and placed in this one. Outside of what made the short movie effective, there is nothing else that could be considered of any primary substance. In fact, it appears obvious that screenplay writer Eric Heisserer struggled to come up with a compelling story to add to Sandberg’s talent for directing the more scarier moments.
As for the spine tingling scenes, they quickly turn into a chore to go through after about the third or fourth jump scare. Maria Bello delivers the only noteworthy performance playing the mentally tortured mother, Sophie, but the remainder of the performances feel quite generic as they normally are for an unimaginable horror flick. Running at a duration of a meagre 81 minutes, it does not feel modest. But that is what happens when most frames of the same movie are filled with the same things it has already tried tricking you with. This probably means that only the first 10 or 15 minutes of the movie is mildly entertaining. Anything after that is like a song that is being played over and over because there are no other songs on the record.
For those that enjoyed the 2013 short movie, it is recommended that you just stick with watching that and let your imagination run wild with all kinds of possibilities and ideas. The feature will only spoil what was supposed to be obscure with a dull narrative that has been told time and time again, eventually making what was supposed to be frightening into something that didn’t really even need explaining, let alone with a shoddy explanation.
It is with a degree of sureness that there will be some fans that did at least enjoy the American remake of The Ring and such. You may get your kicks out of Lights Out it if that was your thing, or even if you are still quite new when it comes to exploring the horror genre. If any hardcore fans wish to take their chances then it’s okay. You haven’t been whisked back to 2002. It may feel like it, though.
Let us hope that Lights Out is a one off and that any potential high box office return does not inspire studios to revisit the recent past. Judging by what I have witnessed on various forums related to this movie, it is something many of us definitely do not want!