A horror film which plays on people’s fear of the dark is hardly a new concept, but it’s one that takes centre stage in Lights Out, a new scarer produced by the director of The Conjuring and Insidious, James Wan. Based on a short film from David F. Sandberg, the supernatural going-ons revolve around two siblings, Rebecca and Martin, whose mentally unstable mother seems to have invited a murderous spirit into their home – a spirit with such an aversion to light, that she can only move and attack in the dark.
If the plot sounds thin, that’s because it is. The concept may have worked rather well in its original, short film format, but when the narrative is stretched to an hour and a half, the gimmick very quickly begins to wear thin. Initially, the frights are brilliantly executed – a well-trailed opening sequence in a warehouse acts as a terrifying introduction to the idea – but with little movement in where he can take the story, Eric Heisserer’s script ends up recycling the same frights over and over again until the film’s end.
Part of the problem is James Wan’s involvement. A blessing in terms of selling the film, his name on the poster is also a curse in that it acts as a reminder of the much better horror films that he has been involved in. When compared to the likes of The Conjuring – a horror film with as good a narrative as its scares – Insidious and even the Saw films, Lights Out feels lazy, unoriginal, and, most importantly, not very scary at all – and that’s truly saying something coming from a self-confessed chicken like myself.
Sure, there’s some fun to be had with the absurdity of it all – I found myself in hysterics towards the film’s dumb finale – but even that can only go so far. I found myself leaving the cinema not so much as a nervous wreck, but rather a grinning lunatic, still in disbelief as to the silliness I had just witnessed. I thought to myself, the lights are out, that’s for sure, and there’s definitely nobody at home.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com