Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, mature themes, disturbing images, incessant terror and brief drug use
Running time: 81 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures
When Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) was growing up, she spent many a sleepless night frightened by noises that she only heard after the lights went out. Today, the emancipated 22-year-old has all but forgotten that unfortunate chapter of her childhood. After all, she’s long-since moved out of the house and has her own apartment as well as a devoted, if dimwitted, boyfriend, Bret (Alexander DiPersia), she’s been dating for eight months.
But Rebecca’s relative state of bliss is rudely interrupted when she gets word that her little brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), has been suffering from insomnia for several days. She can’t help but wonder whether he’s just having nightmares or if he’s being terrorized by the the same sort of paranormal activity that had plagued her own formative years.
It suddenly has Rebecca reflecting on how her father (Billy Burke) had perished under mysterious circumstances at work after being warned by an alarmed colleague (Lotta Losten) that something weird was happening with the office lights. Could his untimely death possibly be related to little Martin’s current plight or was there no correlation?
So, those are among Rebecca’s concerns when she returns home to comfort her scared sibling. She offers to take custody of Martin as soon as he starts talking about their mom Sophie’s (Maria Bello) recent bizarre behavior, an indication that she might again be struggling with bouts of depression.
Truth be told, however, something supernatural is afoot. The premises have been invaded by the ghost of Sophie’s BFF (Alicia Vela-Bailey) who died from a light-sensitive skin condition when they were kids. For some unexplained reason, she’s morphed into an evil apparition that haunts her old friend’s house and only comes out at night.
“Lights Out” is one of those old-fashioned horror flicks which seeks to keep you on edge by making you jump out of your seat when you least expect it. The movie marks the noteworthy directorial debut of David F. Sandberg who has fully fleshed out his 2013 short film of the same name.
Despite low production values that often leave a lot to be desired, Sandberg has nevertheless managed to shoot a rather riveting screamfest, thanks to a capable cast, a haunting score and a knack for editing that’s downright nerve-wracking. Proof positive it’s still possible to mount a decent B-horror flick on a very modest budget.