James Wan, man. If you’re anything of a horror fan you cannot help be recognize the name. As what can only be defined as a living legend, this man has worked on pretty much every single top grossing horror film in the last ten years, and he continues his streak by producing Lights Out.
Lights Out is the first feature length film from David F. Sandberg. After doing a handful of shorts (one of which being the original short that this one is based on), he’s finally struck it big and has released one hell of a scare.
The story is fairly simple, and not totally unique: Sophie, a mother of two with a haunted past in an asylum has made a deadly friend in Diane, a girl who has extreme reactions to sunlight. In an experiment/treatment gone wrong, Diane was burned alive, but continues to show up from time to time and kill people who are threatening Sophie’s happiness. That is, until several years later when Diane has decided that it is time that she had Sophie to herself, so her young son and grown up daughter have got to go.
As I said, this is not a unique or new plot really; it is a twist on the classic “be afraid of the dark” horror stories, but the real aspect that makes Lights Out stand out is how it utilizes light and dark to build up unhealthy amounts of tension and anxiety. Anyone who has seen the trailer knows about the flicking of lights on and off, showing the shadowy outline of a creepy woman in the dark. Hell, the trailer was enough to make me uneasy. Seriously, whoever put that together should get a pay raise. Throughout the film several other uses of light are experimented with. Black lights, flashlights, glowing and slowly surging neon signs, and candlelight all are used in an attempt to maintain safety or fight back against Diane. These are all smartly done, and each situation has different outcomes with the apparition.
The acting is fairly decent throughout the film, but there are some scenes that sort of fall flat due to a lack of connection between the actors. However, Maria Bello absolutely shines (heh, get it, light joke) in her role of Sophie. I cannot give enough credit here. In a film where the main apparition is a terrifying can’t-be-seen-in-the-light demon, I would say that the depiction of a depressed and borderline schizophrenic single mother who befriends said demon is equally, if not more terrifying.
In the end, this movie takes a tried and true formula and runs with it in new and creative ways, and boy is it scary as hell. The tension I experienced in this screening was up there with anything else I’ve experienced in the theater in recent memory. It’s a must watch for any horror fans out there. Go see it.