Film Review: Lights Out


Frances Winston found this to be a ‘plenty of frights’ horror movie, which uses good, old-fashioned tricks to make you jump rather than CGI

Directed by: David F. Sandburg – Starring: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Billy Burke, Maria Bello

You could be forgiven for thinking it was Halloween, as a couple of creepy chillers are set to land in our cinemas. First up is this debut directorial offering from David F. Sandburg. Originally created for a short film competition, Sandburg expanded the idea to bring audiences this feature-length version.

Palmer plays a girl called Rebecca, whose mother Sophie (Bello) has been struggling since the death of her husband. When her little brother, Martin (Bateman) continually falls asleep in class, she is called to the school, and when she brings him home she realises something is seriously wrong with Sophie, who has apparently been visited nightly by her ‘friend’ Diana.

She brings Martin to stay with her, but strange things keep happening, and Rebecca soon realises that they are dealing with something very malevolent that doesn’t like the light. However, whatever is targeting them seems to have a direct link to her mother, making it harder to destroy it.

This has scares from the off. The opening is super-creepy, and the jump out of your seat moments continue apace. This is produced by James Wan, and like most of his work it relies on old-school tricks rather than special-effects to deliver the frights.

In a market saturated with CGI monsters, this is actually rather refreshing. Bello is a great actress, and perfectly cast as the unhinged Sophie, and she proves a great foil for Palmer who carries the movie well. Young Bateman is a revelation, and gives a performance that belies his tender years.

The cinematography and soundtrack are both top-notch, and completely add to the spooky atmosphere. Although this is a simple premise, it could have felt forced or dragged out, but at just over 80 minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome, or allow itself to slow down.

Although there are some glaring plot-holes, and a couple of scenes that are somewhat OTT even for this genre, on the whole this is a solid scarefest. It’s an impressive debut from Sandburg, and it definitely has the fright factor.

If you are looking for an alternative to the big summer blockbusters, and you don’t mind your heart in your mouth, then this is definitely worth checking out.

In Cinemas August 19th!

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The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
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