|Directed by:||David F. Sandberg|
|Written by:||Eric Heisserer|
Given how fantastic 2016 was for horror part of me is disappointed that I don’t have more to say on Lights Out, but then again part of me thinks that what makes the film work is how little there is on it. It lacks in the fright angle but it makes up for it with a solid family dynamic.
The film is based on a short film and it definitely feels that way, even at just 80 minutes it only just scrapes by before losing steam, although to the film’s credit this means that there’s almost no fat, things hit the correct beat as they should and it keeps a strong pace without resorting to unnecessary sideplots and giving just enough backstory to let the audience fill in the gaps.
I’ve never been impressed by Teresa Palmer’s acting before, she’s a gorgeous woman but acting never felt like her strong suit. But she did some great work here, being just rebellious enough to be distant from her mother but loyal enough to do anything for her brother, even when the long term goal is working against her, I liked her character and thought she was the best heroine this film could’ve hoped for.
The brother didn’t annoy me but I can’t say much else on him, same with the boyfriend, he could’ve been totally worthless but I did like how he was completely on board with Palmer’s mission to save her brother even if he didn’t fully understand why. I would’ve liked to have seen more of Maria Bello, I thought her fringes with madness and connection to the villainous Diana were quite interesting, especially Bello’s motivations which I wanted to see blossom a little more. Overall the family dynamic of a damaged mother, rebellious daughter and frightened son isn’t new but it worked well enough for this film.
What kills the whole thing is that it’s just not that scary, the scariest part of the film is in the damn trailer with Diana appearing in the dark and disappearing in the light. There’s little atmosphere and too many failed jump-scares to let the film creep in like it wants to, which is a shame because the concept is solid, a supernatural entity that can only be seen in the dark has a lot of potential and the film almost makes it with the final act being set in pitch-darkness with nothing but blacklights to see but it’s still not enough to make the film scary. A well-acted horror movie is one thing, but lacking the ability to be a horror is something else entirely.
In short I did like Lights Out for the parts more than the sum, it deserves its passing grade but it could’ve been a lot better. I’ll most likely see the sequel in the hopes that they build on what they have here.