The Dark Power

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re­leased 19 aU­GUsT 15 | 81 min­utes Di­rec­tor david F sand­berg Cast Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Gabriel Bate­man, alexan­der diPer­sia

The con­cept of some­thing nasty lurk­ing in the dark­ness is a pri­mal fear, and one that’s been ex­ploited by hor­ror movies from the mo­ment the genre was born. So it takes a brave film­mak­ing team to tackle a sub­ject that’s been ex­plored al­most to death. For­tu­nately, Lights Out benefits from the pro­duc­ing guid­ance of James Wan, no stranger to giv­ing old con­cepts a fresh breath of air. And talk­ing of fresh, the man call­ing the shots is David S Sand­berg, who par­layed some suc­cess­ful short films into a chance at some­thing a lit­tle big­ger, but had never di­rected a ful­l­length fea­ture be­fore, let alone a big stu­dio film.

Ex­pand­ing Sand­berg’s most suc­cess­ful short, the script from Fi­nal Des­ti­na­tion 5’s Eric Heis­serer stitches a tale of a dys­func­tional fam­ily and men­tal ill­ness to a fan­tas­tic scary story that ranks among the year’s best. Re­becca (Teresa Palmer) is an emotionally dis­tant young woman who’s grown up in the shadow of her mother So­phie’s (Mario Bello) de­pres­sion. That dark­ness in­cluded a mys­te­ri­ous crea­ture called Diana who haunted Re­becca’s days and nights. Now, as her step­brother Martin (Gabriel Bate­man) starts to see the same things, she re­alises Diana is a much more real threat than her mother’s frag­ile men­tal state might in­di­cate.

Sand­berg’s back­ground as a jack-of-all-trades film­maker means that while not every mo­ment works, he still makes good use of prac­ti­cal lo­ca­tions and ef­fects, knows how to stage an ef­fec­tive scare and en­sures the movie whips along with pace and panic, stay­ing hair-rais­ing to the end. It’s a promis­ing start for the di­rec­tor, and hope­fully as his bud­gets in­crease, he’ll main­tain what makes Lights Out per­form so ef­fi­ciently as a fright-de­liv­ery sys­tem. Jim Blakey

Stays hair-rais­ing to the end

The di­rec­tor’s wife and short film col­lab­o­ra­tor, Lotta Losten, cameos as Es­ther in the first scene.

Darth Long Hair stalked into the arena.

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