Lights Out – Review

Keep the lights on.

Back in 2013, a little short film, titled Lights Out was released online. In the weeks following, the video travelled around people’s Facebooks, through people sharing it and getting tagged in it. What seemed like a harmless video soon turned into three minutes of sheer terror. So it is no surprise a full length feature based off it has came into being.

Titled Lights Out, it’s directed by the same director, David Sandberg. Before I go any further, check out the short film below.

My arse certainly collapsed the first time I seen it. The film takes this concept and gives it context. When a member of their family dies, the mother struggles massively with the loss, affecting both her son and runaway daughter. However, family drama soon turns sinister, due to the presence of a mysterious ghost called Diana. As things escalate, they must work out how to stop her.

Now if you couldn’t be bothered to watch the short film above – which you really should – I’ll explain how the ghost works; she only appears in the dark. So if you were to turn the light on she would disappear, but as soon as you turn it on she’s back. Oh and did I mention this isn’t exactly Casper the Friendly Ghost – she’s a demon.

“Am aff.” (© – Warner Bros)

The ghost herself loses a lot of impact the more you see her. Whilst it can’t be denied the jump scares are good, lengthier scenes with Diana soon become a bit laughable. Nevertheless, as I said, the jump scares are good, and there’s plenty. The tagline was right: “You were right to be afraid of the dark”.

As well as jump scares however, there’s plenty of plot holes. Parts of the story do not add up at all, such as the (adult) daughter not knowing her mum was in a mental institute. Not the kind of thing you’d chat about over a coffee but important information nonetheless.

Speaking of the daughter, she’s played by Teresa Palmer. I really hope Sandberg intended for her to be unlikeable, because that’s immediately what you’ll think of her. If he did, then what a performance indeed. In the scarier parts of the film she does well, but nothing memorable.

(© – Warner Bros)

The mother is played by Maria Bello, who you’ll know from Grown Ups and A History of Violence. Whilst I can’t say it was a marvellous performance, she certainly put effort in to convincing us she’s crazy. Suppose that’s all we need really. Also a shout out to the child star Gabriel Bateman (what a name), who although can come across a bit annoying occasionally, consistently feels vital to the film.

To sum it up…

For a first full-length feature, Sandberg has made an impressive debut into the horror genre. Tension-bursting scenes and the inevitable jump scares are sure to torture audiences everywhere. Plot holes and silliness aside, you’ll be thinking about Lights Out for a while – especially when you’re about to go to bed. 


Rating: Gid

What did you think of Lights Out? Let me know in the comments below, tweet @film_swot, or check out our Facebook page!

Author: Cameron Frew

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Cameron Frew

Freelance film writer. Words on Flickering Myth, Bloody Disgusting, Movie Corner UK and Jumpcut Online. My five favourite films are: 1. The Goonies 2. Forrest Gump 3. The Shawshank Redemption 4. Warrior 5. Whiplash

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