Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lights Out - Movie Review

Starring Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello, Alexander DiPersia and Billy Burke.
Written by Eric Heisserer.
Directed by David F. Sandberg.


We know most of the tricks of ghost thrillers. You can either try to find new tricks, or just make sure you're using the old ones really well. This one doesn't have any new tricks, but it's surprisingly effective with ones we've seen before.

The movie is pretty short (about 80 minutes) and most of what we saw in the trailer happens in the first act, which is great. This is a movie that understands you don't have to drag out the origin story, which is rarely the best part of any movie. Besides, the characterizations aren't that strong.

There is a deadly apparition named Diana, and we see her kill someone in the first ten minutes, so there's no doubt of her reality. She is somehow tied to Sophie (Maria Bello), a haggard mom who speaks to the shadows, which freaks out her sleep-deprived son Martin (Gabriel Bateman). Martin reaches out to big sister Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), who left home under poor circumstances. Rebecca knows how bad things can get when Sophie's of her meds, so she agrees to take in Martin until their mom can get things under control.

Ah, but Diana isn't confined to a house. When she starts showing up at Rebecca's place, they know they have to get to the bottom of Diana's motivations.

The central trick is that Diana can only exist in shadows, and when the lights are on, she's invisible and powerless. Director David F. Sandberg does a good job of dwelling on dark corners of the room, making us regularly anticipate where Diana might come from next. She's one of those disjointed ghosts, like the poltergeist from Mama.

It delivers on what it sets out to do. It goes "Boo!" repeatedly and sometimes it works.

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