Cinematic Releases: Lights Out - Reviewed

Read our review of this week's horror release, Lights Out. 

Every so often a truly great horror film comes out of nowhere.  It is the perfect balance of scary and thoughtful, and not just jump-scary but truly chilling, haunting its viewer long after they’ve left the theater.  It is well-cast, well-written, and well-acted, and it rises above the annoying tropes of horror filmmaking to transcend its genre and take its place among the year’s best films.  It’s the kind of movie that you can only truly appreciate after having to sit through generic, ridiculous horror movies like Lights Out.

If you'd come out of the shadows for a minute, I'd be able to tell if you were a Sith
or a werewolf. 

To get into much detail about Lights Out would be to violate this website’s “no spoilers” policy, especially considering there really isn’t much to a movie that clocks in at a whopping 75 minutes without credits.  Indeed, after a clever premise that could have been fun if done right, there’s little beyond cheap horror tropes and plot holes.  Anything that could’ve been good is quickly squandered, resulting in a mediocre and even unintentionally funny mess that’s as hard to follow as it occasionally is to watch.

I know honey. I used to
love my career too. 
For all of its flaws (and there are many), Lights Out is made of quality ingredients.  The most relevant name on the poster is producer James Wan (best known as director of modern horror classics like Saw and The Conjuring).  This is likely an attempt to use Wan’s name to gain a bit of credibility for what is actually the debut feature by Swedish director David F. Sandberg, who based the film on his own short film.  The cast is led by acclaimed young actress Teresa Palmer and Golden Globe-nominated veteran Maria Bello.  The two actresses do the best they can with the material they’re given, and their performances are the best part of the whole affair.  These performances and the surprisingly good special effects just aren’t quite enough to save Lights Out.

At the end of the day Lights Out is a movie with a lot of problems.  Some sections of the film are by-the-numbers mediocre horror, others are just muddled nonsense.  Major plot points are glossed over and never explained properly, leaving gaping plot holes that can’t be overlooked.  The viewer barely has enough time to appreciate anything good about the film with its short run time so full of problems.  This brings to light the harsh reality that there’s little to nothing to elevate Lights Out above the dozens of lousy horror movies clogging up Netflix.  Lights Out is forgettable, ridiculous and messy, a must-miss for horror fans everywhere.

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-Mike Stec