Thursday, July 21, 2016

A reason to be afraid of the dark

Lights Out efficiently delivers the expected shocks.
Swedish filmmaker David F. Sandberg makes his feature debut by expanding his award winning short, Lights Out. If you want to get a feel for the scare tactics used in this minimalist hunk of horror, you can watch Sandberg's short on You Tube. The idea is simple: Turn out the lights and a threatening but ill-defined monster appears. To get beyond the jump scares of the short, Sandberg and writer Eric Heisserer add a rudimentary story: A young woman (Teresa Palmer) rescues her 10-year-old half brother (Gabriel Bateman) from the home of their disturbed mother (Maria Bello). Mom's mental issues -- she was once committed to an asylum -- lend a patina of psychology to a movie that consciously toys with the audience, and expects the audience to recognize and appreciate the manipulation. That's part of the fun. Because it's only partially seen, the shadowy monster (Alicia Vela-Bailey) proves plenty eerie. If you want to make something more out of Lights Out, you could talk about the inner darkness that haunts Bello's character, extending to everyone she touches. But mostly, Lights Out offers 81 minutes worth of scares without really penetrate nightmare terrain. One caution: A shocking finale proposes a solution for destroying the monster that no therapist would endorse.

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