Lights Out (PG-13)

Lights Out is a story that plays out as if your imaginary best friend in your head was an angry, envious, insecure, murderous, psychotic demon who could manifest into solid form that all could see, hear, and touch – but only when the lights are out or in the shadows.  It does not like the light, so it knows how to darken a room within seconds so it may wreak havoc upon you.

Starring Theresa Palmer and Gabriel Bateman as step-siblings, Lights Out is a horror movie co-written and directed by first-time feature film maker David F. Sandberg.  I have to say, I’m enjoying the emergence of this new crop of directors in the horror genre.  The genre seems to be benefitting greatly from fresh voices and new ideas.

Both Theresa Palmer and Gabriel Bateman did a solid job in their roles. Maria Bellow as the insane mother to Palmer’s and Bateman’s characters did a solid job as well.  Also worth a mention is Alexander DiPersia, who plays the boyfriend to Palmer’s character.  It is the actress who portrayed the entity, Alicia Vela-Bailey, who shines in this movie.  She is a former stuntwoman-turned-actress who is referred to as “the human special effect.”  The entity was scary and once you find out the background info on how this thing came to be, it becomes scarier.  Even though the entity appeared to be no more than a tangible shadow, Vela-Bailey embraced this role with primitive squats, gestures, leaps, bounds, retreats and reappearances (think the ego-driven Gimme from United States of Tara, but much darker).  It was a particularly brutal entity when it felt threatened.

Once again and as usual though, the story relied too heavily upon people doing stupid shit and going into ridiculously unnecessary places where they should not be to further the action. When this happens, I just ask myself “Why?”  Why would one be going in the basement, attic, inside, outside, or wherever the most ridiculous place to be is?  “Why!?”  I mean, these people act as though they have never seen a horror movie before!  I understand it is the set up for more action, but some behavior just does not make sense.  If the house is “haunted” and I know the house is haunted, I’m not going in there.  Unless we can only stop whatever it is from inside of the house.  Period.  And even then I might not go in there.  Whatever is in there will surely have to come out and get me if it wants me.  And we are all leaving together.  Period.  And we will be staying together.  Indefinitely.  At least until we figure out how to stop whatever it is.  And when we figure out how to stop it, it will be stopped.  I will not wait for things to play out to their inevitable conclusion.  If it can be stopped now, it will be done sooner rather than later so we can end this nightmare.  Sometimes sacrifices must be made!  Oh, and that reminds me, the ending could have been much better.

The dialogue in this movie fell a bit flat. If I just had an encounter with some “thing” that tried to kill me, dragg me who-knows-where, assaulted me, you better believe I am going to tell the next available person I run into, no matter who they may be, all about it – even if just briefly.  Who wouldn’t?  I understand the audience just witnessed what happened and doesn’t need a recap, but some things just do not make logical sense.  Are we not working together toward a common goal here?  And I’m not asking a child whether or not he wants to talk about what happened.  Spill it kid.  This is not play time.  We are trying to live here!  Oh how frustrating these movies can sometimes get!

I did like that some of the history of this loosely blended family and the plot had to be surmised by the audience and everything was not patly explained.

Today I confirmed the reason I dislike seeing two films within the same genre within a short period of time (two days). Yesterday I reviewed Don’t Breathe and today Lights Out.  It is difficult not to compare the two, and I gave it a shot.  But here is where I compare the two.  I believe both Don’t Breathe and Lights Out were equally entertaining due to the originality contained in the story line of each.  Don’t Breathe edges out Lights Out in acting.  Not that the acting in Light’s Out was bad, but Don’t Breathe was more of a suspense thriller than a horror film, providing stronger material for the actors to work with and a much less predictable template.  Also, Don’t Breathe contained more action and cool camera work that begs one to see it in a theater.

Lights Out earned 7 out of 10 bloops. It’s a good movie worth seeing, even if you’re not particularly into horror.  I would not exactly recommend anyone run to the theater to catch it, but be sure to catch it when it streams.  It would make a really good Netflix & Chill flick.

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