David F. Sandberg’s film “Lights Out” will surely give you chills.
The story surrounds a family being plagued by something dangerously evil. After losing their father in a brutal attack, oldest daughter, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), is left to temporarily take care of her little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) after mom Sophie (Maria Bello) becomes mentally unstable. We soon come to understand that what appears to be their mother’s psychological breakdown is, in fact, the result of an insidious and controlling apparition named Diana.
Reminiscent of films like “Darkness Falls” and “They,” “Lights Out” makes its audience scared of the dark again.
What’s most refreshing is the creators don’t have any issue with throwing scares at you right from the opening scene — and what an opening scene it is.
Although “Lights Out” has its share of jump scares, they never come off as overused or ill-placed. The audience feels genuinely afraid, or at least anxious, throughout the film. There’s the constant threat of the lights going out, a death sentence for any character without a flashlight. In one scene near the end of the film, the suspense was too much and some of my fellow theater-goers shouted at the screen — they couldn’t hold it in.
Diana’s spook factor is on point. Her feral and unstable nature represents a primal danger we all fear. She’s shaped like a woman but has glowing eyes and claws, and crawls like an animal and speaks like a human — a terrifyingly twisted force. Coupled with jarring frame jumps, fast-moving shots and deafening silence, you can’t help but hold your breath in anticipation.
The performances feel honest and realistic in their portrayal of a family dealing with a frightening paranormal entity, but also their own relationship struggles from mental illness and tragedy. The chemistry between the cast members, including Alexander DiPersia’s endearing performance as Bret, Rebecca’s boyfriend, is emotionally believable and, at times, even cute.
I haven’t been this satisfied with a horror movie for some time. I highly recommend catching it in the theater for the full effect. One thing’s for sure though — you’ll think twice about what’s in the shadows on your way home.