LIGHTS OUT (REVIEW)
Dir. David F. Sandberg
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
The horror genre has been swamped with remakes and sequels to established franchises over recent years leaving little room for something original. When something great does come, it shines high above its contemporary's to prove a hit not only with genre fans, but with mainstream audiences alike. In 2014 we had THE BABADOOK, 2015 was the time for IT FOLLOWS and 2016 has LIGHTS OUT.
Produced by legend and icon, James Wan, David F Sandberg's film is an expansion on a YouTube short that sees a broken family reunite when the spirit of an old friend returns.
It's challenging to explain the films plot when the main antagonist is a spirit who's there, not there, there, not there, oh shit it's HERE!!!! As with William Castle in the 30's and 40's, LIGHTS OUT is a gimmicky film but one that's played very well. Imagine a 90 minute ride through a haunted house that delivers it's scares evenly throughout.
The charming cast pull together on a story that blends J-Horror with Science Fiction pulling on family and friendship against the backdrop of experimentation and mental institutionalisation. Refreshingly, the story is self contained and while some would stretch to see a wider explanation of events and back story, it works for LIGHTS OUT as a popcorn horror flick that needed in todays growing library.
What's pleasurable here is that the film genuinely surprises at making a single gimmick last the duration of the movie and Sandberg's dramatic pacing manage to make something strangely silly actually scary as fuck. There's no denying that the film does go ecstatic in explaining how it gets away with it but LIGHTS OUT is a charming movie that harks back to 80's horror movies where the joy is in escaping from an over complicated Hollywood cinema skyline for a standalone horror film that leaves you dodging shadows and wanting to leave the lights on indefinitely.
And with Sandberg now confirmed to helm another Wan produced movie in ANNABELLE 2, here's hoping for some of the charm of LIGHTS OUT, as well as the terror, to be passed on.