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).