Movie Review: Lights Out
Lights Out – wow. Bloody hell. That was an ordeal. That was 81 minutes of pure, unadulterated terror. That was one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen in my life. It was bloody good.
With a cast of relative unknowns, produced and directed by a relative unknown, and only coming in at 81 minutes, less than an hour and a half, it’s easy to look at Lights Out with some trepidation. I didn’t know any of this before though, fortunately, and had only seen the trailer – you know the one I mean, with the factory, the spot lights, the apartment, the rising and fading light, the…thing…in the dark. Those two minutes were enough to convince me to see this film, and I’m really glad I did.
Lights Out is relentless – from the opening scene in the factory, the one from the aforementioned trailer, to the final scene in Rebecca’s mum’s house, this film does not stop. It’s one fright to the next, with no time to rest in between. That’s what makes this film seem a lot longer than it is – you’re almost praying for it to end, just so the ordeal is over. But when it eventually does, you’re pretty disappointed. It isn’t just terrifying, but it’s a genuinely very good film.
It’s a fairly simple concept, preying on our deepest, darkest fear – namely, the dark. The film is cleverly crafted, in that even during the day, scenes are presented in places that are able to be dark – closets, windowless rooms, spaces under beds. As I said, this film is relentless. The cast, all relative unknowns as I mentioned earlier, all perform admirably. Performances of note in particular come from three of our main characters – Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), her boyfriend Bret (Alexander DiPersia), and Martin, her younger brother (Gabriel Bateman). There’s a new trend in film and TV at the moment – actually decent child actors. Bateman definitely falls in to this category.
Martin is the focus of the maliciousness in the film – he’s the one the monster seems to be following, he’s the target. His performance is very believable. It isn’t stunted, or awkward, like a lot of child actors tend to be – we feel his terror, his fear, his emotions. One of the strongest parts of the film is Martin’s bewilderment – the malice is coming because of his mother, and we can feel as he struggles to accept this. In fact, we struggle to accept this, even though we’re privy to slightly more information from this. His own mum. How can she do that to him?
Rebecca is the rebellious but well-meaning older sister, who’s been through what Martin has already, when she was younger. As such, she’s able to help, to be the voice of reason, she’s our anchor in this film. Palmer’s performance is excellent, she sells the film and the concept totally and completely without fail. And Bret is the comedic relief, though only to a minor extent. There is very little comedy to be found amongst this horror. There were moments the cinema burst in to laughter, and rightfully so – but it was nervous laughter if I’ve ever heard it. It’s the kind of laughter you almost have to force out to remind yourself there are other things than fear in the world. The kind of laughter you hope will scare monsters away.
The plot of the film is nothing ground-breaking, but it doesn’t need to be. The concept, the idea, the acting, directing, script and scene detail is what makes this film so good. I can’t really do Lights Out justice here, all I can say is I highly recommend this film. But with one caveat – if you have a weak heart, maybe stay away. Because this will stop it.