Never has the saying “be afraid of the dark” had more meaning than in the new scary film Lights Out. It’s a film that’s incredibly ingenious in the way it presents its horror, and also offers enough surprises to more than warrant a watch. Considering it’s something we can all relate to, as everyone was at some point afraid of sleeping with the lights off, it’s all the more impressive that this film manages to scare an adult audience such as yours truly.
Based on the stunning short film by the same name also directed by David F. Sandberg, Lights Out tells of the struggle of a family and a sinister being that appears only where there’s no light around. A troubled mom (Maria Bello), her bitter daughter (Teresa Palmer) and scared son (Gabriel Bateman) have to deal with this strange and deadly appearance by keeping flashlights close-by, candles on, and just generally staying out of the shadows. Though we have clearly seen creatures that creep in the dark and other sinister beings who only appear during night time, it’s shown here as a great plot device, to the point that it doesn’t matter if it’s dark or broad daylight: if there’s a lack of light, you know something bad is bound to happen. It’s as clever a concept as it was in the short film, and the transition to feature appears seamless.
Through a bunch of well designed set pieces and a really creepy backstory as to what is actually hiding in the shadows, Lights Out offers something new to the genre while still being a familiar horror film. It’s delicately staged, and brilliantly lit (which it should be, with light right up there in the title) to give a scary atmosphere regardless of the time of day and the physical setting. The film travels quickly from your typically massive and creepy home to a factory and a cramped apartment, and, some genre tropes aside, there’s just no denying that this premise can more than sustain the running time of a full blown feature, and was just made to become a horror franchise (the sequel has already been green lit by the studio).
Add in some deft direction and some very effective jump scares, and here’s the 2016’s horror movie to beat. Though some may laugh at some of the odd decisions the characters make, and though is not as sophisticated as last years’ It Follows, it all just makes up for it with just how much smarter than your average horror flick this is. Just make sure you watch it with the lights on…
Lights Out comes out in in the UK on August 19th