Lights Out (2016)

Lights Out 2016 poster.jpg
Bright Filmmaking?

Director: David F. Sandberg
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Billy Burke, Maria Bello

Many horror films tap into our primal fear of the dark, and what could possibly lurk within. David F. Sandberg uses that to deliver an intriguing scenario, expanded from his chill inducing 2013 short.

After leaving home, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) thought she left her childhood fears behind. She was never sure what was real when the lights went out, seeing a terrifying figure whose existence tested her sanity when the lights went out. Those same fears are now being had by her younger brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), as a frightening entity has latched onto their mother, appearing whenever the lights go out.

Image result for lights out 2016 youtubeAnchoring the picture is Rebecca, our lead who wants to protect her younger brother, while dealing with unresolved issues with her mother. Teresa Palmer delivers a tremendous performance, selling her characters familial struggles, while sharing genuine chemistry with the talented Gabriel Bateman. As the mother who's dealing with issues, both personal and supernatural, Maria Bello sells every moment she appears on-screen. Special mention also to Alexander DiPersia, who puts genuine likeability into his character, avoiding all opportunities to be an underwritten love interest and instead a relatable character to root for.

Multiple times throughout, the picture makes decent use of the scenario and the ways in which the characters can prolong the darkened creature attacking them. From the use of candles, car lights, and even gun shots, these moments do wonders in expanding the picture, but one can't help feeling it's a situation more effective as a short.

While the horror elements work well, particularly when delivering jump scares that are actually effective, it often clashes with the psychological elements. There could've been a more seamless manner of meshing the two disparate components, but they often feel at war with one another. Also not helping things are how it rushes to wrap things up, delivering a finale which is keen to tidy things up, without caring how manipulative it may seem.

Lights Out is a key example of how effective something can prove in its original format, yet suffer when expanded into a motion picture. In spite of the problems the writing may have, David F. Sandberg shows promise in directing.