John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

Lights Out Review

Lights Out

Genre: Horror

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, with Billy Burke, and Maria Bello

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: July 22nd, 2016

Lights Out is an original and endlessly creepy horror film that should please fans of the genre.

Lights Out is a horror feature that  goes back to the basics.  There aren’t many characters in it. Nor is there a lot of violence and bloodshed. Instead, website the movie relies on an enticing simple premise and revels in that concept as it offers up one legitimate scare after another.

Maria Bello stars as Sophie, viagra dosage a woman whose husband was recently found dead. Sophie is a single mother to her mature son Martin (Gabriel Bateman) and Rebecca (Theresa Palmer), information pills a rebellious young woman who hasn’t spoken to her mother in years.

Early on, Martin watches as his mother seemingly has a conversation with a stranger in a darkened room. The problem: Martin can’t see that person. He knows his mother is unwell and director David F. Sandberg — who created the short film this was based on — uses Sophie’s mental instability to keep the audience a little off-balance. Is she mentally unstable or can she see someone who isn’t really there? Is she part of the horrors as they unfold or a simple bystander who doesn’t realize what’s happening? It takes a while to figure that out.

The horrors that unfold relate to a ghost that appears to Martin in the middle of the night. The young boy can’t even sleep in his own home. When he keeps falling asleep in school, his older sister Rebecca comes in to help. They soon realize that Diana (stuntperson/actress Alicia Vela-Bailey), the name of the ghost that haunts Martin, is a figure who haunted Rebecca’s childhood as well.

The title of the film and its main concept derives from the fact that Diana only seems to appear in the dark. When the lights are out, she can come for you. In the light, she disappears.

With an efficient running time of eighty-one minutes, the feature quickly establishes its premise and the main characters involved. There aren’t that many to speak of, which makes the scares even more personal. The film’s focus is on one family so extraneous bloodshed and victims are jettisoned to make room for more character development and legitimate scares.

There are few — if any — unnecessary characters. One of the few side characters is Brett (Alexander DiPersia), Rebecca’s long-term boyfriend, but he too becomes an important part of the story.

As a mother who clearly needs counseling, Bello brings a great gravitas to the feature — never letting her unhealthy character lose her humanity. Sophie never becomes a stereotypical crazy person. She’s simply lost sight of reality. The character even becomes more relatable when her children stick up for her even when she’s lost sight of them.

When given the choice of remaining home with his mother (and being haunted by Diana) or staying with his sister, Martin argues that he should remain home. “She needs us now more than ever,” he says.

The real stand-out in the cast is Gabriel Bateman, whose Martin is stuck in a terrible situation. Martin’s maturity keeps him stable even in such a dire situation. Bateman’s performance– when he’s being hunted by Diana– helps sell the concept and makes it seem that Diana truly is real and coming to get him.

Written by Eric Heisserer but adapted from Sandberg’s short film, Lights Out is a horror feature that offers some great chills and scares. Instead of relying on dramatic music or cheap scares, the feature builds up a creepy ambiance signaling that a dark presence truly exists when the lights go out. The concept works at its best when during action sequences, the movie uses ingenuity to show the different lights we use in our everyday lives.

For some, this feature might seem typical but the feature defies its genre to offer some great thrills.

Review by: John Hanlon