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Review: Lights Out

9 min read
Teresa Palmer stars in Warner Bros. Pictures' LIGHTS OUT

The horror genre is pretty much the only place where you can consistently find movies that get a pass for not having something resembling a story. With that being the way it is, it’s actually understandable why many of these movies struggle to become and remain relevant. A movie like Lights Out could have taken the same approach, but its creators decided to add more than that. While I appreciate the effort, there are some things that don’t allow it to reach its full potential.

In Lights Out, we meet Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), a young woman who left her family home and everything in it behind her. She’s what you may consider to be a bit distant from others, but that’s all about to shift thanks to her younger brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) reentering her life. After she reconnects with him, everything she thought she left behind starts to come back into her life. Now she needs to deal with her family, her old home and the evil spirit that appears to be attached to everything she loves.

Appreciating the fact that there’s a legitimate attempt at creating an actual story behind everything that goes on here is something that has to be done. It doesn’t happen as often as it should in this genre, but I hope to see it more often in the future. Doing so would elevate these films and turn them into something that earns respect from more than people like me and other hardcore fans of horror.

As far as the negatives in Lights Out are concerned, there are quiet a few of them. Many of them are easy to ignore, but that doesn’t necessarily make the movie better from a viewer’s standpoint. The reason for the movie’s struggles come primarily from the lack of scares that the picture has to offer. Now, there are a good amount of them spread throughout the movie, but none of them really hit as well as you would like.

This is more do to the fact that many of these attempts to scare are easy to see coming. Of course, this takes much of the impact away from what’s being showcased. You kind of need these to catch you off guard in order for them to really work. Here, there are plenty of them, but they’re pretty much all easy to see beforehand. This allows you to settle in and figure out what’s going to happen.

This is one horror film outside of the traditional slasher flick that I believe could have benefited from a higher body count. It’s not that kind of movie, but placing a few more well placed bodies around it could have assisted in building the tension that is sorely lacking. Obviously, that’s seen as hard to do since it’s a PG-13 movie, but it could have given us more of a payoff in certain situations.

Because of the low body count and the PG-13 rating, it never really feels as if the characters are being threatened by the evil lurking in the darkness. In order for audiences to fully get into a movie, the tension that the characters feel under these circumstances helps in making something that’s engaging. This also assists in getting the kinds of reactions that audiences love to have when they go out of their way to see a movie within this genre.

Another issue is that they wait too long to introduce certain aspects that truly capture what needs to be seen and known. Allowing these aspects of Lights Out to enter earlier could have given us that sense of danger that we’re looking for. I could see them altering what they have here a bit in order to do that, but it would also change the direction of the story. Depending on who is behind it, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.

In its entirety, Lights Out doesn’t fail as a whole. It struggles to be the horror film that it could have been, but it’s not something that I would consider to be absolutely horrible. If you’re like me and others who need more than obvious jump scares, you may be better off looking elsewhere for a good time while watching a scary movie. On the other hand, if you scare easy, Lights Out may be something you will at least like to some degree.

Rating: PG-13

Director: David F. Sandberg

Teresa Palmer
Gabriel Bateman
Alexander DiPersia
Billy Burke
Maria Bello

Film Length: 81 minutes

Release Date: July 22, 2016

Distributor: Warner Bros. Picture

  • Score - 4/10
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