Review – Lights Out (2016)
Is it possible to create a successful feature length movie from a short film? Absolutely. Michael Dougherty did it with Trick ‘r’ Treat with astounding results. But with David F. Sandberg’s adaptation of his short Lights Out, the end product leaves one feeling like it should have been left as a short.
It’s not a horrendous film by any means – it’s just that the same scare gets a little tired after seeing it happen about, I don’t know, 400 times. If you’ve seen the short (which is phenomenal, by the way), you know the one that I’m talking about; the lights go off and there’s a dark silhouette. Once the lights are turned back on, however, that figure it gone. Turn them off again, and it appears once more, and the coming of the lights make it disappear. Is it just a mind trick? No, because this time, it’s right in front of your face. And it wants to kill you.
Lights Out starts out strong, with a man meeting his unfortunate end in a creepy warehouse populated by mannequins. We soon learn that this shadowy figure is named Diane, and she’s been causing a certain family great distress for some time now. Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), the oldest daughter, left home a long time ago and now lives in an apartment above a tattoo parlor with a fluorescent light that is constantly on. She’s angsty and dark; comically so. You can tell because she wears a black fishnet shirt and uses black nail polish, while decorating her apartment with posters of metal bands. While I’ll give credit for the inclusion of a Ghost poster, the Avenged Sevenfold blemish on the wall tells you everything you need to know about the character. Combined with her good-natured boyfriend (Alexander DiPersia), the two make a fitting pair, no matter how typecast and cheesy the two of them are.
Her younger brother (Gabriel Bateman), though, is not so lucky; he still lives at home, and he is victim to the torment of Diana, along with the siblings mother Sophie (Maria Bello). Sophie is a character that is, unfortunately, all but wasted. She is a victim of deep depression and gives little more than being a tortured parent. We soon find out that she met Diana when she was sent to a mental institution for her depression when she was a child, and once Diana died, her ghost stayed with Sophie. The ghost, quite clearly, is a metaphor for depression, but it’s shoved in your face to forcefully that it becomes barely a metaphor.
Still, for what it is, Lights Out is a fun little horror flick for the most part. To be blunt, it’s just disappointing. There are many themes here that could have been explored – the mother, for example, is not much more than a sad middle-aged woman, and the explanation for Diana is all too easy, but anyone looking for an entertaining night out at the movies may find Lights Out to be enjoyable. It never gets more than skin deep and leaves a lot to be desired, while also including a sloppy and underwhelming ending, but the fourteen-year-old inside of you may think twice about sleeping with a nightlight after seeing this.
Or, you may find the whole ordeal hilarious, like the entire theater that I watched this with did. Damn kids.
The Geeked Gods Score: 2.5/5. Okay.