Modern day horror movies are just the worst. The days of poor practical effects, bad acting, and video quality you could never seem to get good tracking on are long dead, unfortunately. Ever since the debuts of films like Saw and Paranormal Activity; horror films, in general, have become two notes, jump scares and fake gore. As far as the story goes, this is not the genre to look at if you want great screenplays. Horror movies are only written for 10 minutes of a plot before all the murdering begins. It really takes a lot to impress me with this genre. The Conjuring 2 was a great breath of fresh air mixing horror, suspense, writing, and acting. It was easily the best scary movie I’ve seen in the last decade that I can remember. However, movies like that seem more like a happy accident given the norm.
Lights Out is based on a short film that was released years earlier under the name ‘Who’s There?’ and it is remade for the opening of the film. While working at a clothing factory late at night, two people run into an evil spirit which can only manifest itself when the lights are turned off. Our story begins with a boy and his looney tunes mother, Sophie. A former mental patient who is suddenly off her meds and thinks her demon friend is still alive, how cute? Turns out it was her husband who got turned into a kebab in the opening scene and she has now opened a BnB for the demon at their place. After the boy fails to sleep for 3 days because of Satan sleeping in the other room, his sister, Rebecca played by Teresa Palmer decides to let her brother stay at her place for a night. But that immediately fails as they nearly get killed at her place as well. So Teresa, her brother, and her boyfriend return home to get some answers.
There isn’t not much else to the plot here, once all the backstory is told, the movie becomes a ‘we have to survive the night with no real plan on how to survive. You’ll be happy to know that this film relies SOLELY on jump scares and loud noises. That’s not to say that the Lights Out doesn’t do it well but these types of scares only work to startle you and once you’ve fallen for it the power of the scare greatly diminishes. You get about four good scares but nothing that really sticks with you after you leave the theater. That’s why I enjoyed The Conjuring 2, that movie left me with more a general freaked out feeling when I left the theater while here you’ll forget most the best moment’s minutes after it happened and probably sleep like a baby afterward.
I was a bit surprised to see so many ‘great’ reviews for Lights Out. It is scary at times when they manage to catch you off guard but after seeing better horror done not too long ago I couldn’t give this one a glowing endorsement. The acting from the main characters are good, the film makes use of its limited budget and does what it can to earn its scares, and they also do a great job of building tension and creating an uneasy feeling of dread which keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. With that said, Lights Out is ultimately short, jump scare horror trope filled, low budget film that plays it by the numbers. If this was 20 minutes longer it could have left an impression, instead, Light’s Out will be remembered as well as Annabelle…good thing they are coming out with Annabelle 2…