Lights Out, film review: “No game-changing revelation but it makes you jump”

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 August 2016 | UPDATED: 18:12 22 August 2016

Lights out (Copywright: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Lights out (Copywright: Warner Bros. Pictures)

© 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It’s predictable (though with the occasional inversion of audience expectations) and scares are carefully rationed out

The horror audience, which is devoted but prone to being faddy, seems to have largely eschewed gore in recent years for boo-made-you-jump thrills.

Something in the zeitgeist has told them that little children being petrified by ghostly figures springing out of the shadows of dysfunctional family homes, or teenage girls trying to outpace inescapable curses, is more use to them than narratives of torture and dismemberment.

Does that represent an outbreak of isolationist escapism or a facing up to stark reality?

Lights Out is no kind of game-changing revelation but it does all you can reasonably expect of one of these films – it makes you jump in ways that are not exactly the same as every other film of this type that you’ve seen.

The monster here is a demonic figure that can only appear in darkness, and disappears when the light is turned on. Doesn’t sound like much but Sandberg has a couple of killer scenes to hang it on; primarily people turning off the lights in offices and seeing a shadowy figure in the darkness, hastily switching the light back on again to find there is nothing there, and then repeating the process in disbelief until the monster is suddenly a lot closer.

The image comes from a short (less than three-minute) film Sandberg made in 2013 that was more of a black comedy.

To flesh it out to feature length his scriptwriter Eric Heisserer has purloined elements from any number of films going back to the original version of The Ring.

It’s predictable (though with the occasional inversion of audience expectations) and scares are carefully rationed out over the 80-minute running time.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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