LIGHTS OUT

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Direc­tor: David F. Sand­berg (fea­ture de­but) Star­ring: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bate­man, Maria Bello, Alexan­der DiPer­sia, Billy Burke Ver­dict: Please be afraid of the dark IF you’re in need of some sud­den, nerve-shred­ding jolts, then this short, sharp and not-so-sweet horror movie gets the job done with a mer­ci­ful min­i­mum of fuss.

An 80-minute run­ning time (which scales back to 73 min­utes when you shear away the cred­its) is a bless­ing, and not a curse for Lights Out. The re­cent hit chiller The Con­jur­ing 2 had a whole ex­tra hour at its dis­posal, and yet, failed to rack up quite as many gen­uine scares as the (un)healthy num­ber logged here.

Not much go­ing on in the needto-know depart­ment of Lights Out, it must be said. A sub­ur­ban house is un­der the nightly con­trol of an evil spec­tre that can wreak to­tal and ter­mi­nal havoc if dark­ness lev­els are plunged to near pitch-black.

In other words, if you’re not within reach of a torch or a can­dle – or stray too far from the near­est light switch – a one-way ticket to the ceme­tery awaits.

Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello and promis­ing young new­comer Gabriel Bate­man are among those stag­ger­ing

from one dimly lit room to an­other, look­ing for any kind of glow that will keep their creepy guest in the shad­ows.

The afore­men­tioned trio are a fam­ily unit of sorts. One of them is di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the on­go­ing pres­ence of the icky’n’ir­ri­ta­ble in­truder in their lives.

In the in­ter­ests of keep­ing Lights Out a spoiler-free ex­pe­ri­ence, let’s hit the pause but­ton on any fur­ther de­scrip­tion of the plot. The sto­ry­telling cup­board is de­lib­er­ately kept bare through­out the film, so too much ad­vance knowl­edge (or even a lin­ger­ing look at the Lights Out trailer) is a dan­ger­ous thing.

With few cast mem­bers to speak of, the onus falls on Palmer to an­chor the film – and she does quite well in fill­ing out a con­spic­u­ously un­der­writ­ten role. While no one would buy Palmer as the heavy-metal en­thu­si­ast her char­ac­ter pur­ports to be, she to­tally owns Lights Out when­ever it is time to kick some paranormal butt.

First-time direc­tor David F. Sand­berg is def­i­nitely a name to watch, even if he does overuse the same clank­ing-me­tal­lic-boom noise for all of his shock re­veals (which sounds like an or­ches­tra dropped down an el­e­va­tor shaft).

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