Lights Out (2016) - After hearing this film talked about on the Zombiegrrlz Podcast I decided to break my general rule of avoiding the movie theater and hop over to Solomon Pond Mall to see this scary little film. The film based off a short was pretty decent if you want my opinion. Yeah well this is a horror blog and I suppose if you are reading it you actually want my opinion. The film has an opening that sets up the present day story Paul (Billy Burke) is working late and gets a call from his son Martin (Gabriel Bateman) because the son is concerned with the behavior of his depressed Mother Sophie (Maria Bello). His father reassures him that he will get a handle on Sophie's mental health problems but after some really scary stuff does not get the opportunity, Some of the groundwork is set up here, Mom's mental state, how the ghost works in that you can only see it in the dark and it can only harm you if you are in the dark. There really is no story at this point so like the opening scene of Supernatural the scene is to set the stage and all will be explained later.
The present day story is after old Billy Burke's character was buried and the kid martin is living with his off her meds Mom. After watching Burke on the television show Revolution I have to admit watching him die was somewhat of a secret pleasure. Even though I don't think any actor could save the writing on that show. We are introduced to the female lead of the film, the lovely Teresa Palmer as Rebecca. She is Martin's step sister who left home after the last time her Mother was having hallucinations and she is somewhat reluctant to get back involved with the family. Or anyone else for that matter, she has a boyfriend she can't seem to commit to Bret ( "Say what again!" I know its unrelated but when ever I hear that name). He is a good guy but she has her own issues since her father left the family years before when Sophie's mental illness flared up when she was just a girl. Abandonment issue will mess a girl up. So she lives in a little apartment in the city has a not too friendly relationship with her Mother.
Martin bears the brunt of the crazy, now alone with Sophie he is terrified of the ghost in the house and because of it is not sleeping so well. The ghost for its part is a long arm female that does not seem happy that the kid is around. Martin gets in a bit of trouble for sleeping in class and since crazy Sophie is not available the school calls Rebecca. She and Bret ("mmmm, that's a tasty burger.") arrive and when she hears the kid out she decides to go to the house to find out what kind of shape her mother is in. We learn through the story a bit about the ghost named Diana (Alicia Vela-Bailey) and her connection to Sophie and the kids lives.
The film has a good amount of character development and relationship development that make it a much better film than a horror film. The horror elements are there but are surrounded with a decent story about mental illness and the effects of it on the family. We learn who Diana is and why her ghost is around the family Also though we see the horrible implications of untreated mental illness and its impact on those close to the affected person. The writer Eric Heisserer off a story by David F. Sandberg connects all the dots that explain how this being is connected to the family and the tragedy of the impacts over time for the entire family. The back story of the ghost may not totally make sense with the shaky premise that she gets in peoples heads as the line the viewer has to swallow to suspend disbelief. That and the way too convenient but necessary power outage but in general a very well constructed film.
Palmer carries the story with a sure footed and calm performance that hit the right notes for the character. She plays the adult where adults are hard to find with Sophie effective off balance throughout the film. Palmer just seems to hold the emotions until things happen that should get larger reactions, a very convincing job. Bateman adequately plays the scared child and Alexander DiPersia is solid enough as boyfriend Bret ( "Is Marsellus Wallace a bitch? Then why you fucking him like one?") Maria Bella is just exceptional as the off her rocker Sophie. She is fragile while still being just a bit threatening, using her eyes to carry a great deal of the conflicting emotions the character has. Sandberg directs and seems to have gotten good performances from his cast. The scares are there and are really what we want when we go to a horror film. So this film is somewhat enjoyable and I already have my idea for the double feature with Darkness Falls (2003). So go support horror in the theaters and see this film.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter
is dedicated to following and being followed by
people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them
follow me back.. It really is an experiment and where I love the
community it is a way to keep track of what is going on by the people
involved in it. I am now following over 160 people while the
followers is only 23 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow
just anyone back. :)