Back in 2013, David F. Sandberg directed a short called Lights Out that scared the living daylights out of me. Now it’s time we meet the same concept, all grown up, with Lights Out.
Sophie (Maria Bello) has not been taking her medication, neglecting her young son Martin (Gabriel Bateman) and talking to the shadows. It’s up to Sophie’s alienated daughter Rebecca (Laura Palmer) to help Martin as he keeps seen a frightening entity that only materializes when the lights are off. It’s well executed concept, reminiscent of Dr. Who’s Weeping Angels but with a life of its own.
I was lucky – or unlucky – enough to know the short before I saw the full length movie last night. For me, raw and all, it works better in the short. The movie however does a great job of expanding on the mythos, without overdoing the cliches. No cheap scares from cats jumping onto people. No hundred false endings each on top of the other.
The first time someone notices the shadow that shouldn’t be there, that disappears with the lights on and appears when the lights are off, the victim does something new. He bolts for the freaking door. I’ll let you know whether he makes it or not, but the idea is that you would never stand still when there’s a shadow killer after you.
Theres’ some growing pains. To appear in the big screen, the movie has compromised to show movement. I still say it works better without it, to the point that I lost some of the illusion as the silhouette moved. Scary for some, but it broke the spell for me.
Highs: It’s not a completely foreign concept, which is a good thing since it’s relatable. We’ve all thought we’ve seen a shadow when we turn off the lights that ends up being a coat or a broom with the lights on, specially as kids. Watch out for Bret (Alexander DiPersia), Rebecca’s boyfriend. as he manages to escape being killed by the skin of his teeth a couple of times in an almost Han-Solo-esque fashion. Lotta Losten, the star of the original short, makes a small appearance. The movie doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Lows: For some reason, the movie feels we need exposition at around half the movie’s length. It’s not a long movie, but for the second half it does feel like the concept is running thin. It loses some edge at the ending.
Recommended for the mainstream theatre, with some genuine scares. It’s a little of a lightweight for Fantasia, but at least it was enjoyable.
Coming up next:
- Friday, July 22: Embers (USA) / Seoul Station (South Korea).
- Saturday, July 23: Psychonauts (Spain) / The Phantom Detective (South Korea) / Assassination Classroom: Graduation (Japan).
- Tuesday, July 26: We Go On (USA).
- Wednesday, July 27: Familyhood (South Korea).
That will do for now.