Lights Out Review – A Mind Bending, Scary Good, Shocker

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Lights Out, from Atomic Monster, New Line Cinema and Warner Bros Studios, brings to the screen a fantasy horror flick that is everything an ultra-suspenseful, mind bending, psychological fright flick should be and then some.

Directed and co-written by David F. Sandberg, Lights Out stars Maria Bello, Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Billy Burke, Lotta Losten and Alicia Vela-Bailey as Diana. Lights Out was written for the screen by Eric Heisserer.

Lights Out opens with Paul, played by Billy Burke, SKYPE chatting with his son, Martin, played by Gabriel Bateman who is explaining his Mom, Sophie, played by Maria Bello, is sick again, she is talking to herself and he doesn’t know what to do.

While Paul is having this conversation, Esther, played by Lotta Losten, his assistant is completing inventory and closing up the stock room. The warehouse has super sensitive motion sensor lighting lining the hallway so three seconds of no movement, step outside of the radius and they go off and the lights go out, leaving only deep darkness. A simple wave of the hand and there is light.

As Esther is finishing up the paperwork, the lights go out and a dark human shadow appears to be kneeling on the floor, which she doesn’t see. She walks to the stock room and turns out the lights and the figure appears. She sees it, flicks on the light, it disappears, shuts off the light, it appears.

Scared, she tells Paul to be careful she saw something. Without dismissing her he dismissed the spooky shadow she believes she sees. He walks through the same hallway and the lights, with a three second timer, are on and off so fast, he sees the shadow and as a sensible man runs down the hallway to the light and his calf is slashed by the presence.

Trying to fight against what could be a hallucination, for rational Paul, are the choices until the door begins to shake with the force of a dozen men, something unknown and undefinable bursts through the barrier and as the scene fades we see him killed, bloodied, slashed in the middle of the hallway.

We meet Martin again, a year later, as he is still listening as his mother speaks with Diana, played by Alicia Vela-Bailey. What he sees, and what his mother sees are two different things. Diana is scary, an undefinable manifestation of evil, she controls Sophie.

Martin is off to school and his fear has made it impossible to sleep which has caused him to sleep in his classes. The school nurse tries to call and can’t reach anyone so as a last ditch effort they call Rebecca, played by Teresa Palmer, his half-sister.

She shows up with her boyfriend, Bret, played by Alexander DiPersia and after a brief encounter with Child Protective Services the trio heads over to Sophie’s house. The bizarre behavior, Paul’s death, the talking to shadows, the manic mood swings have to be kept under control.

Rebecca has her own history with her mother. Sophie, as we find out, has childhood trauma which she never fully explained to anyone. She met Diana at a mental facility where she lived while her parents sought help for her manic depression. Patients, of all stages of mental illnesses were integrated in the general population. The deeply disturbed Diana, who had witnessed her father’s suicide, began to dominate and control the unsuspecting, scared, lonely Sophie.

Unsure of what to do, Rebecca keeps Martin at her apartment so he can get some rest, figuring on a good night’s sleep the solution will be clearer. 

I want to say it is at this point that Lights Out turns into a fast moving, non-stop, fear thriller which is true. So my level of fright film tolerance is low so for me it was deeply disturbing movie.

There are many elements that aren’t discussed including the mental illness experiments carried out on patients of all ages in the 1960’s. Of course, how depression does control and does allow for darkness to manifest itself in images and the controlling darkness and the inability to rise above without the meds. Our character, Sophie, is on psych meds and admits to the need. The manic mood swings are also portrayed.

With all that said, Lights Out is authentically scary, a frightening film with heightened fear and that is just the first few minutes. The manifestation, in the first three minutes is like nothing seen before and it is frightful. It pops out of the gate and hits the ground running. There is just enough calm between the beginning scenes to catch your breath.

After Lights Out moves to the conclusion and finale, the scenes become haunted house terrifying, springing pop-ups around each corner. Even knowing it is a movie and meeting the talent during the pre-release party held at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival, it is still a shocking, nail-biting, heightened mind bending psychological thriller.

Lights Out is meant to be experienced. See this film, even if your fright level is low. It is scary good.

Lights Out opens July 22, 2016. Be prepared.