‘Lights Out’ is a horror film starring Teresa Palmer and Maria Bello and is directed by David F Sandberg, the director of the 2013 short film ‘Lights Out’ on which this film is based. When this short was introduced 3 years ago it was such a fresh and interesting concept that you wondered how it would perform as a feature length film. Now thanks to WB and James Wan’s production studio Atomic Monster it became a reality and man was this film utterly terrifying. The concept at play here is the biggest selling point of the film and of course it is the reason why this film is so effective. The idea of only being able to see this being in the dark and thus having to stay in the light at all times is terrifying and makes for some very creative scary moments that can’t really be done by most other films. This movie had good interesting characters with some well done performances, plenty of scares fairly consistently throughout, an engaging and well fleshed out story and does its best to stay away from the usual horror cliches.
The scares are what make horror films what they are, whether it is a jump scare or just fear through use of creepy music/visuals they all give a horror film a distinct identity. This film had a fairly even mixture of both and does both with a good amount of success. You can definitely see Wan’s influence in this film where even though it isn’t made directly by Wan you can tell which elements were taken from his style of horror. The scares are spread fairly evenly throughout the film with shorter sequences in the first half of the film and the last 20-30 minutes or so being one long, intense, and terrifying sequence that sends the film out with a bang. Some scares here and there play out exactly how you thought they would but most of the time the film tries to throw you curveballs and trick you into thinking it’s over before it gets you in the next scene, very good use of horror there. Where i think this film could have been much better is in the time spent away from the intense and dramatic horror sequences. What films like ‘The Conjuring 2’ and ‘It Follows’ do really well it make you feel always terrified and never really safe, as if something could literally happen at any moment. Here though there are multiple moments in the film where you know there is no immediate threat to the characters and so you let your guard down and just wait for the next terrifying sequence, this could have been utilised for some massive unexpected scares but the film doesn’t take advantage of that unfortunately.
The characters and performances in horror films are where they usually struggle to break out of the average quality horror film range. And here there are no performances quite as good as Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in ‘The Conjuring’, but i thought the actors did a very good job at convincing me they were really in these moments and it helped to get into the horror sequences. I also think the film had very interesting characters with quite interesting relationships, much better than most other horror films. When the film started i was able to straight away pick out what tropes each character would have and where it would lead but for the most part i was quite wrong. The film tries as best as it can to incorporate a very engaging story with interesting character development and was successful in doing so. I was interested in finding out where the mysteries of the film would lead and it added another layer to the film as oppose to just waiting for the next horror sequence.
So in the end this is a very terrifying horror film with plenty of scares to keep you on the edge of your seat in fear, and also a good story with good characters to have you get invested in the characters so you care more about each scene. It is very well paced, doesn’t slow down often and is a thoroughly entertaining horror film if horror is your thing. But be warned, once you witness what happens in the dark, you will never want to turn the lights….. out.