Sunday 18 September 2016

Lights Out by Heisserer and Sandberg

I see numerous horror movies and they are almost always a big fat disappointment, stuffed with routine, ho-hum, attempts at scaring the audience — loud musical stings or somebody suddenly stepping into frame. 

This happens so much so that I'd begun to wonder if the genre was defunct...

But then last year there was the outstanding The Boy written by Stacey Menear and now we have the excellent Lights Out, written by Eric Heisserer and directed by David Sandberg.

The movie is actually based on a short film made by Sandberg a few years ago, which became an internet sensation. I'm not usually on the memo-list for these things, but as it happens my buddy Keith Temple sent me a link to it.

As I say, the short film had a big impact, but this new feature length chiller is considerably better. It tells the story of Diana, who is deeply disturbed, very dangerous, has a strange pathological sensitivity to light — oh yes, and she’s back from the dead.

The premise is somewhat similar to the Doctor Who story Blink, in which the monsters could get a little closer to you every time you closed your eyes. Here Diana can advance wherever and whenever it's dark.

Lights Out is a horror movie which actually works. It's a gem, and I particularly like it because it sweeps aside the usual clich├ęs. Most films in the genre require the protagonists to behave really stupidly. (Would you go down into that creepy basement all alone, etc?)

But here the characters do all the sensible things to combat Diana — interestingly, this tendency is  present even in the short film. And you know that the point where you think, "Why don't they just call the cops?" Well, in Lights Out they call the cops...

And it doesn't do them any good.

David Sandberg has done an admirable job of expanding his original concept, with the help of Eric Heisserer (who wrote the 2011 remake of The Thing). 

They are greatly assisted by the dazzling colour cinematography of Marc Spicer and the presence of Australian actress Teresa Palmer as Rebecca. In a sense, the movie is all about Palmer's face. She looks great on screen and she can really act. Alexander DiPersia also scores as her likable slacker boyfriend.

And Maria Bello is well cast as Rebecca's mother. She is vulnerable, damaged and ultimately triumphant. 

The movie features some clever use of light sources to drive off the monster and all in all it's a terrific little horror flick. Highly recommended. 
(Image credits: Very slim pickings for posters at Imp Awards. So I've supplemented it with some Teresa Palmer Lights Out Wallpaper and the blue pic from Just Jared and the red one from Movie Web.)

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