Starring: Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, A fucking scary ghost
Director: David Sandberg
Synopsis: One family struggles with an evil presence that can only move in the dark.
Scary movies are hard to make. It’s very easy to mock the bad ones or the genre as a whole. One that relies on silly conveniences, characters making poor decisions and LOUD noises. But to really scare an audience, to inspire fear in groups of people that all have differing notions of what terrifies them, is highly skillful.
A debut movie based on a chilling short film and all supervised under the skilled tutelage of James Wan (the Conjuring films are high points of the genre recently) Lights Out could have gone either way. Happily it’s a short, punchy, terrifying slice of horror. Opening with an extended set piece that wastes no time introducing the films biggest asset; the main monster. Physically creepy, with a stagnated way of moving and hideous (in a good way) sound design, Diana, as she’s so generically named, is a wicked delight. An intriguing back story and a clever tie into the central family add to the terror.
Played with manic intensity Maria Bello is fun as the nutty matriarch with Teresa Palmer giving spiky support as the daughter fighting her own as well as her mother’s demons. This is a family you genuinely want to see happy and survive, a failing of many horror films, with added fun in Alexander DiPersia’s Bret; the not the norm for horror nice boyfriend of Palmer.
In its brisk 80mins the film conjures up a ridiculous amount of scares, some using the typical LOUD noises, but also with a genuine shred of tension and escalation. Unfortunately the characters do suffer from what I call SPHD (Stupid Person Horror Decision) syndrome but not enough to outweigh the sheer terror the film provides. I can also safely say I struggled to sleep for a few nights after and in my book if a horror film does that then it’s truly successful.
Verdict: A terrifying new movie monster in a film that crams in enough scares for two horrors, and all in 80mins. See it and remember to leave the lights on!!