Friday, July 22, 2016 marks the US theatrical release of Lights Out – the latest horror film from director David F. Sandberg, and producer James Wan. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening Wednesday, July 19 courtesy of Warner Bros., Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
Based on Sandberg’s 2013 short film of the same name, how did Lights Out hold up as a full, feature-length film? Read on to see for yourselves!
Lights Out tells the story of Rebecca (played by Teresa Palmer of Warm Bodies and 2015’s Point Break), a streetwise and fiercely independent young woman who has has long since become estranged from her dysfunctional family – prticularly her deeply disturbed, probably-should-be-instituionalized mother Sophie (Maria Bello of Coyote Ugly and A History of Violence). After her stepfather is brutally murdered by a malevolent spirt that only appears in darkness, and her younger brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman of Annabelle and American Gothic) begins to be tormented by the haunting creature – one which haunted Rebecca when she was young and seems to be somehow connected to their sick mother – Rebecca sets off to protect her baby brother and put a stop to this evil being once and for all.
Right off the bat, the film hits the audience with the jump scares, offering at least three of them before the opening credits even roll. As the film continues, I honestly lost count of how many there were. They do a very nice job of building the tension and suspense, even if they do telegraph the jump scares quite a bit. That’s not to say the jump scares weren’t well done or well executed, they absolutely were; however the film relied almost entirely on them throughout the entire runtime. If jumps scares are your thing, this is absolutely the movie for you, but if you prefer a lot more substance to your horror, you’ll likely find a lot to be desired.
From the technial side of things, the effects, camerawork, and editing were all outstanding, and the cast’s performances were stellar, at least for what they were. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t very much actual substance to this film, and it often felt like they were just dragging the fairly simple story along to increase the runtime and fit in as many jump scares as they could. Worth mentioning is the fact that the live (non press) audience in attendance was frankly just terrible. Many attendees (as in over 50%) were talking through the entire thing, which was referred to as “nervous laughter” by the ushers at the theater, but nonetheless made it rather difficult to really get into this one, or possibly even follow it entirely. As a quick aside, dear readers, please don’t be “that guy” and talk through movies – don’t fit into that stereotype, no one likes those people. Not that any of you would, of course, just a simple request (or maybe just a slight venting) from a guy who goes to a lot of movies. Anyway, let’s wrap this up here…
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Lights Out wasn’t a bad horror film by any stretch, it just wasn’t a particularly good one. The characters weren’t very well defined, the film dragged on a lot at times, it was jam-packed with about every old school horror movie trope imaginable, and there really just wasn’t all that much to it beyond the obvious that everyone saw in the trailer. That being said, the film looked fantastic, the cast did a great job with what they were given, and the jump scares, while predictable, were nicely executed. Unfortunately, this film was just too long for its story, and honestly should have stayed a short film – or even been remade as a big-budget short film, for that matter. If jump-scare-fests are your thing, you’ll have a blast going to see this one. Otherwise, you may just want to wait until this one hits Netflix as it’s really pretty average… or better yet, just go look up the short film instead! – 6.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine