No doubt you've heard of the movie Lights Out that's been making a sizable chunk of change at the box office. It's produced by the maestro James Wan himself, who has heralded a new age in horror and has brought some great franchises to life in the last 10 years like Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring. Lights Out marks the latest in his producer catalog; however, the movie follows a lot of similar themes to one that came out over a decade ago. I am of course referring to the box office bomb that was 2003s Darkness Falls.
So what's this movie about you ask? Well, here's the blurb...
A vengeful spirit has taken the form of the Tooth Fairy to exact vengeance on the town that lynched her 150 years earlier. Only coming out in the dark and deftly afraid of the light, her only opposition is an only child, now grown up, who has survived her before.
Sound familiar? Check the trailer out for a little more:
Personally I'm always — I repeat, ALWAYS — up for a slice of supernatural horror as its basically my go-to sub-genre. Now, Darkness Falls slunk out of cinemas fairly quickly and got very little praise upon initial release. However, it has now grown a fair-sized cult audience since it was released on home video (remember those?) and DVD. Personally, I think it deserves at least a little recognition for its concept, which (until this year) was a unique take on a traditional horror staple.
A genuinely creepy little horror movie — albeit with a ridiculously amped up climax — David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
Darkness Falls is a great popcorn horror B-flick that at times, shows some real flare for horror, which was and is constantly lacking in mainstream cinema. However, the film suffers from a script that feels like a mangle of several drafts that have been pushed together simply to complete the movie. This could be due to no less than three different screenwriters working on the film who, no doubt, had conflicting ideas on where they figured the film should go. Unfortunately, it'll leave many viewers scratching their heads at the gigantic plot holes strewn throughout, many of which are never even vaguely explained.
The characters are all mainly one-dimensional and lack any sort of motivation, which leaves you not really caring if they ultimately live or die. In fact, the main two stars Caitlin (Emily Caulfield) and Michael (Lee Cormie) play as brother and sister in this movie, Caitlin is undergoing the huge medical task of finding out the root of her brother's delusions. However, this "relationship" feels somewhat muddled, as though in another draft of the movie, they would have been written as mother and son. Interestingly, this is yet another similar theme to Lights Out, which has a sister coming to the aid of her younger brother at the hands of a supernatural threat, coincidence? Hmm.
Keep Those Lights On!
The most inventive horror movie of the year — Fred Topel, Nerd Report
Director David F. Sanberg's Lights Out is based on his own 3-minute short film of the same name, it won him critical acclaim in the Bloody Cuts: Who's There? Short Film competition back in 2013. The idea of a horror movie using light versus dark is not necessarily a "new concept," but it seems Lights Out has a refreshing slant that struck a chord with the horror community. The fact you have a ghost presence that cannot stand the light seems to have biblical ramifications and I believe an audience has more connection with this as our society, let's face it, is swamped in hundreds of years of religious history. Then again maybe we just like a spooky ghost story, who can tell?
The movie version of Lights Out, thankfully, isn't just a cash in on the viral success of the above short film. It really builds a new universe of terror and has probably one of the most fleshed-out concepts I've EVER seen in a supernatural horror film. This is all down to a new director with a passion for the genre; it's akin to an artist's amazing first album and I'm certain it won't be his last. In fact, David's already shot his second feature, which will be 2017s Annabelle 2, I'll be pre-booking my seat for that one ASAP!
Personally, I'm a lover of '70s Italian horror movies by Dario Argento and Mario Bava, so I was overjoyed to see the amazing lighting display on offer in Lights Out. The blues and reds used throughout to differentiate each key scene and those tense "Where is she?" moments really give the viewer a fresh slant on a genre that can often get lazy. An excellent homage to vintage horror cinema that also doesn't feel over used and will no doubt have copycats popping up very soon. All I'll say is, when I got to the "neon sign" sequence I literally had goosebumps and I knew I was watching a superior movie. James Wan's seal of approval is something I believe in more than the state of the government today and I'm DEADLY serious on that point.
Overall, both movies are fun, supernatural, rollercoaster rides designed to give modern audiences yet another reason to fear the coming of night. I cannot recommend David F. Sanberg's Lights Out enough for true fans of horror and it needs to be seen on the big screen in a darkened theater for full effect. Darkness Falls is the more muddled and flawed movie of the two; however, it has a creepy original "villain" and some genuinely frightening moments. If you've already caught Lights Out (the feature film) then I'd STILL suggest checking out Darkness Falls, as it's fun to watch with friends and plenty of beer. In fact, why not make it a double-bill and really freak your pals out! I can guarantee no one will be sleeping without a night light for the foreseeable future.
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