By Emanuel Ortiz
Lights Out was a surprising horror film that strayed from many clichés this genre seems to burden in today’s day and age. The most important one? Yeah, these characters aren’t stupid for once. FINALLY, characters in a horror movie that aren’t stupid.
This movie was different in the way that it really tried to be a good movie first. Lights Out is about an entity that only appears when there is darkness. This being attaches itself to Sophie (Maria Bello) because of the past she had with it. Sophie has two children, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) who lives on her own and Martin (Gabriel Bateman), the younger sibling who experiences weird occurrences in the house. These actors felt more realistic and relatable than most because they actually feel scared, and it comes across in their actions and their performances. The entity is chasing one of them? They run. They don’t go down a sketchy hallway because they hear something. Their characters are given depth as well through their interactions with each other.
Lights Out is full of scares. There are moments of jump scares, of course, but they don’t feel forced or out of place in this movie. Each scare is earned because they are built up to them. The silhouette of the entity will appear when dim light is presented, providing an incredibly eerie atmosphere. The tension is built up effectively, ultimately paying off with a big scare.
The main complaint about this movie is its runtime. Man, is this movie short. 81 minutes. This shouldn’t be surprising, however, because of the source material that this movie is based on. Lights Out was originally a short less than three minutes long. It was then expanded and created into an actual film. What this movie needed was another ten minutes or so to really get into the origin of the entity, or show more scenes with the mother and her relationship with it. As the audience, you are sort of told that this entity has something to do with the mom, but you don’t see how it happened or why it did the way that it went. Adding this explanation could have given the movie a longer runtime as well as showing the audience a creepy past.
Overall, the movie excels where many horror movies fall flat. The actors were well cast and delivered. The movie was genuinely creepy and unsettling, and the story was simple yet executed incredibly well.