"Lights Out" is a brand new film by director David F. Sandberg based on a 2013 short of the same name. I had not seen the short prior to watching the film and to keep focus on the feature length version I don't plan to watch until after I finish writing this review.
The films tells the story of Rebecca, who after spending time with her younger brother Martin, realizes he's being terrorized by a creepy supernatural being that can only exist in the dark. This entity's existence is linked back to a failed psychological experiment that their mother's childhood friend was involved in. What I really liked about this film was the concept of a "monster" that can only be seen in the shadows. We all have thought we saw something strange in the corner of our eyes after we turned the lights out that made up flip the lights right back on. It's something that we can relate to and Sandberg was very smart to come up with this concept.
A visually pleasing aspect of the film was the use of different light sources such as flashlights and black lights used when the evil spirit learns how to turn the power off in the house (maybe she was an electrician in her former life...). There is even one incredibly humorous gag that involves headlights and car keys once the haunting makes its way out of the house and into the driveway. Another aspect that I applaud the filmmakers for tackling is mental illness within the horror genre. Often times mental illness is used as a reason for someone doing something horrible in a horror film, but in "Lights Out" we are shown how mental illness can affect the entire family, not just the person suffering with it.
The film's dramatic ending (don't worry, no spoilers) was one I did not see coming and for that I tip my hat because I'm usually able to predict how most films are going to end. Also, any film where the main character has a "Slayer" poster on their wall always gets brownie points from. There were a few aspects of the film that I didn't necessarily enjoy such as the reveal of the evil entity early on in the film. I would have preferred that they built it up a little more with little teases before the big reveal. I also thought that the over-all look of the film was too polished and mainstream for my taste. With all the cool lighting effects the filmmakers really had an opportunity to make the entire film more visually striking and raw, instead of just during the flashbacks and power outage scenes.
Even with the film's flaws, there is enough elements to make watching "Lights Out" enjoyable. I would be open to watching a sequel but next time I hope they make the look of the film as dark and creepy as the original concept was.
James H. Carter II