Monday, 22 August 2016

'Lights Out' Review

'Lights Out' started off as a short film created by David Sandberg as a short film for a competition. Despite not winning, the short film soon went viral and Sandberg's property was one of the most sought after for many studios and agencies. One of those contacts was Lawrence Gray who looked to get horror guru James Wan involved with the project. A full length feature film was now to be created with Sandberg making his major directorial debut, which hoped the replicate the success of his 2013 short film.

When Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) left home, she thought that her childhood fears were behind her. As a young girl growing up, she was never really sure of what was real when the lights went out. Now, her little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that jeopardized her safety and sanity. Holding a mysterious attachment to their mother (Maria Bello), a supernatural entity has returned with a vengeance to torment the entire family.

Recently I've became a whole lot more into the genre of horror with films like 'The Witch' and 'The Conjuring 2' really impressing me this year. I'm starting to become quite a fan of modern horror and two other films that really impressed me in recent years have been 2014's 'The Babadook' and 'It Follows'. Two clever horror films and I feel that 'Lights Out' took some of the best aspects of each film, and brought them together to create something great. 

The resemblence to 'It Follows' is very clear as a supernatural force will not leave you alone only this time with it happening only when the lights are out or if it's dark. That alone is quite a terrifying premise and for some would be a complete nightmare. A common fear is being in the dark so when you add a ruthless threat into that situation, you create genuine terror in the mind of the viewer. The aspect of not being able to go to sleep due to this creature leaves our protagonists very vulnerable and only adds to their struggle. The premise works phenomenally well and is used to great effect to the point where you may want to sleep with a night light on after seeing it.

Due to the premise of the dark being feared, the film creates some very creepy atmospheres that will bring your fears to life. From the first scene where we first encounter the creature in a warehouse filled with mannequins, you instantly feel tension as it is instantly eery. It creates situations where you really wouldn't want to be which makes you think of the worst before anything really happens. It really plays with your mind and this continues throughout the whole film.

Not only does the film feature a premise that is terrifying, the explanation and reasoning to how it's happening has the same effect but in a completely different way. This is where I feel that the film connects to 'The Babadook'. The mother played by Maria Bello is clearly unstable and she claims to have a 'friend' called Diana. The film looks at how the mother is struggling to cope with a divorce, her daughter leaving home and also the death of her new beau. The film looks at how she is being effected mentally which leads to some tragic moments where you really feel for the character and just want her to get better. It had quite a realistic feel to it despite the supernatural entity as you see this woman really crumbling as she desperately needs help to get better. A different kind of horror from the main draw but an equally as scary one.

A criticism of the film that I have seen has to do with the body count which has apparently made the creature seem not that threatening or as deadly. However the story does create a deeper meaning that clearly associates the creature do this family so it makes sense to why she is causing harm to those close to the family. It makes complete sense in regard to the story and in my opinion, makes it even more effective.

With James Wan being a part of this film, it comes to no surprise that the quality of this film is very high. What impressed me most was the visuals with Diana appearing in the dark and then the figure suddenly disappearing in the light. There are some impressive uses of this, quite like in the short film but with more resources allows Sandberg to go all out with it. To see that Sandberg really took advantage of the opportunity to improve on his idea was good to see as the filmmaker took full advantage of the chance he had been given. In his directorial debut, Sandberg has taken the right steps and hopefully we'll be seeing more of him in the future.

One gripe about the film and it is something that I feel is a common theme within horror. At times the characters make decisions that really aren't clever at all. Palmer's character Rebecca is supposed to be protecting her brother but at times wanders off, leaving him vulnerable if the lights go out. There are moments like this throughout the film that do frustrate you as you wouldn't want to leave anyone in that situation, especially a younger brother. It is baffling and unfortunatley hurts the film to an extent.

Overall, 'Lights Out' will more than satisfy you horror fans out there. A great story behind the origin of Diana as well as a terrifying premise really creates a great horror film. The atmosphere in the film is eery throughout and Sandberg can be proud of his major directorial debut. Well worth seeing.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Lights Out'? If so what did you think of it? I hope that this review was useful if you were planning on seeing the movie and I hope that if you choose to see the movie, that you enjoy it as much as I did. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor