Lights Out (2016): An Old-School ‘Bump in the Night’ Movie

The plot in Lights Out hinges on a simple concept – a demon you can only see in the dark. Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) and her little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) are being stalked by this entity, which has a strange connection to their manic mother Sophie (Maria Bello).

The central premise is what drew me. The idea of a monster that only appears when the lights are off is smart. In a weird way, you can relate to it because everyone at some point has been certain they saw a figure in the dark. Then you turn on the lights and there’s nothing there. This film asks the question: what if the figure is really there?

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So, is it any good?

Unfortunately, Lights Out is only effective for moments at a time. While it is creepy and has an emotional backbone, its main problem is that it’s not creative enough. It relies too much on the ‘things that go bump in the night’ motif, as Sophie deals with her demons, putting Martin and Rebecca in danger as a result.

It is mostly a predictable movie, with no real mystery. It floats along in an entertaining way, but the scares and overall story are a dime-a-dozen. The demon/ghost is someone Sophie met in the past (when it was a person), but now the angry spectre has some back to terrorise the family. There are some additional details that I won’t spoil, but there isn’t much development or creativity to the underlying story.

Also, you see what the demon looks like right away. I thought it would have been better if the film played on the unknown and made us wait to see the demon’s true form. In my opinion, the not knowing is way scarier.

Teresa Palmer in Lights Out

The acting is okay, it could have been better, but the leads are likeable enough that you root for them. The strongest performance is that of Marie Bello, who is solid as the emotionally disturbed Sophie. The way she portrays mental illness is entirely convincing. The events always move at a brisk pace, with constant tension and it will hit a nerve. I found myself jumping a good few times.

Overall:

Lights Out delivers short, effective moments of horror that makes it entertaining to watch, but there is nothing memorable about it. In the end, it’s a cool idea that’s not executed well enough for it to be anything special. But it is a decent movie if you need a quick horror movie to watch.

Director: David F. Sandberg

Writers: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), David F. Sandberg (based on the short film by)

Stars: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Maria Bello, Alicia Vela-Baily

Distributor: Warner Bros.

What are your thoughts on Lights Out? Drop a comment and let me know!

Other film reviews related to Lights Out:

The Babdook

It Follows (2014)

The Monster (2016)

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Liam

2 thoughts on “Lights Out (2016): An Old-School ‘Bump in the Night’ Movie

  1. Very much in agreement about this one. I thought there was good mood and atmosphere but the story just settles for “bump-in-the-night” scares. Also, yes! They reveal the monster wayy too early, I am glad someone else thought that.

    I hear the short film version of this is what you gotta see. I think this was a case of too little being stretched into a feature-length production

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to see you have the same thoughts. It was wasted potential in the end I think. Yeah, the scares are too basic and predictable. I may check out the short film, I hear it works better than the feature.

      Like

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