- RatedNC16 /GenreHorror
God moves in mysterious ways, but the devil makes a rumpus.
Why do ghosts, ghouls, phantasms and demons make such a racket to give away their presence if their main goal is to scare the living daylights out of us, or worse, bring us over to their side?
Wouldn’t it be better to stealthily creep – can’t ghosts appear anywhere – or precipitously appear in front of us before snatching our souls away?
In ‘Lights Out’, the ghoul here, affectionately called Diana is one such ghoul that loves to make her presence felt and heard.
So fond is she of the light-switch that whenever she’s around, the lights go out.
Diana is afraid of the light, and us, the dark. What a perfect pairing.
With glowering eyes, claws as nails and posture as bent as a well-worn wire hanger, Diana is scary redefined, and her mission in (after)life is to be forever BFFs to single mum Sophie (Maria Bello).
Her feisty adult daughter Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) would have none of it, natch. When she realises that dear mum has gone off the rails, the takes her pre-teen brother Martin away to live with her. And guess who decides to break up the sibling reunion.
A gritty and effective horror accomplished with shivery élan, ‘Lights Out’ is an expansion of a 2-minute short film that director David F Sandberg made in 2013. Malaysian-Australian James Wan, of the ‘Saw’ franchise and ‘The Conjuring’ films, is a producer.
In the James Wan-school of horror, going back to basics is key, and Sandberg takes a leaf out of his producer’s playbook to conjure up a bare-bones production that is hair-raising without being gratuitous.
Both Bello and Palmer play their parts well as the estranged mother-daughter duo, as is Alexander DiPersia as Rebecca’s boyfriend Brett.
We can’t help but notice the movie pays homage to Japanese horror here, particularly with the treatment of Diana and how the jump scares are executed. Yes, there are plenty of the same sneak up-in-the-dark scares here, and they work.
What’s amazing is how Sandberg succeeds in turning a simple story with an inane premise into something chilling and surprising.
With 'Lights Out', Sandberg seems to have found firm footing in the horror genre. So impressed are studio execs that they have flipped the switch on a sequel and the Swedish filmmaker is also making ‘Annabelle 2’.
‘Lights Out’ opens 18 August 2016