Halloween is still three months away, and with the Texas summer in full swing most of us are thinking more about the heat index than the creep factor. However, like an unexpected evening storm, “Lights Out” foreshadows that first chilly gust of air, and the foggy nights when the rest of the horror movies will begin their march onto the silver screen.
“Lights Out” has its roots in the short film genre, with the first version by director David F. Sandberg, who then went on to directed this feature film.
Gaining critical acclaim and winning several awards, the original became known for packing a large amount of scare into a remarkably short film, lasting only a couple of minutes.
With the switch from short film to feature length, however, the basic idea remained the same: build up as many unexpected creepy moments as possible and throw in a few jump scares.
The film begins with a nod to the short film, in a creepy warehouse filled with mannequins, where it seems when you turn the lights off, something is hiding in the shadows. Paul (Billy Burke) is working late, and after skyping with his son Martin (Gabriel Bateman), he learns his wife Sophie (Maria Bello) is acting strangely again.
Paul assures his son that everything will be ok, and that he’ll be heading home soon. Of course, as these things go, that’s not the case, and Paul mysteriously disappears.
Left without a husband and a father, Sophie and Martin are hurtling down a dark path, spurred on by his mother’s depression. Only with the help of Sophie’s daughter Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) will they make it out of the shadows.
“Lights Out” makes several nods to the horror geeks in its audience, making efforts to turn each cliché jump scare into an innovative shock that leaves the audience screaming. Although the dialogue and acting can be a little rough around the edges, the creepy practical effects more than make up for it, just make sure to leave the light on when you get home.
Rated PG-13 for terror throughout, violence including disturbing images, some thematic material and brief drug content.