Lights Out – Wait until it gets dark
General , Film & Cinema, Culture
Already at the age of maybe 11 or 12 years I loved horror movies. There was every Friday at 22:00 clock on FS2, that was the name of the second channel of the ORF. Although I was so afraid – I looked every week, under the supervision of my parents. If the horror got too bad, they wanted to switch. They never had to, because the films were harmless at that time. Mostly old horror movies of British Hammer Studios with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and many horror classics like Frankenstein etc.
In the nights after that I was a little bit scared. The best remedy for fear: much light. And where a room was not fully lit, I traced the light of one light source in the cone of light of the next – until I arrived in my bed.
The director David F. Sandberg must have been similar as a child. Three years ago he submitted to an online contest then the three-minute short film Lights Out . Turning on the lights, turning off the light was a game of fear in this movie. Lights Out has been a big hit online and has been clicked millions of times and shared thousands of times.
[ Watch the short film here – or scroll down and read on ]
When the light is off, the fear comes. Many know that. Can you make such a short film a feature film at all? Lights Out manages that quite well – even without the story overdue expand. That’s enough for Sandberg to have a crisp 81 minutes, about half an hour less than an average film takes today. Anyone who likes to be scared will certainly get their money’s worth. Of course you could watch the three-minute short film several times in a row. After all, the horror is always that the eerie shape is not visible in the light. And every time the light goes out, she approaches dangerously.
Is there a real story?
Surprisingly, it has been possible to decorate the fairly simple idea of the short film with a story. A family is terrorized by the eerie figure. This figure has a strong attachment to the mentally ill mother of the boy of the family. As his big sister tries to keep him away from home and the mother, the entire family is increasingly endangered.
I do not want to put too much into it here. A statement that the events are just the perception of a psychotic person, as in The Babadook , is not well derived from Lights Out . But if you take the horror scenes away, then there is still the story of a family, which is exposed by the mental disorder of the mother to great stress. And it’s this story that makes the movie more interesting than expected and also makes the characters more lifelike than we’re used to from such shockers.
Not a big movie, but with strengths
A weak point of the film is that the abilities of the figure, moving only through the darkness, are not thoroughly thought out. In addition, the story strives to overused horror stereotypes: The light starts to flicker when the figure is nearby. Sometimes the light goes out when it’s just right – sometimes even in the entire residential area. How the power supply is manipulated remains unexplained. With a little more effort, this worn-out remedy could have been avoided.
But one thing must be said to benefit the film: There are not always unnecessary Jump Scares, so terrible moments in which the audience almost jumped out of the chairs in shock. In most films, it turns out that nothing scary happens – for example, only a pigeon flies loud wings or a cat jumps from somewhere screeching into the picture. Very funny. Lights Out, on the other hand, has used Jump Scares properly: when the audience startles, it’s because something really scary happens.
All in all
Lights Out is extremely entertaining movie and good horror. Proof of this: The cinema audience was tense throughout – accordingly it was quiet in the hall. A comic relief moment offers the film only once. After over an hour of nail biting, it was just right that the young woman next to me provided a second comic-relief moment – simply by sneezing loudly. “Health” sounded from all corners of the well-attended hall. After some laughter everyone felt relieved – but only for a short time.
My rating at IMDB: 7 points
Great horror summer cinema that meets human primeval fears. Without big claims, but effective. Because: Nothing is as scary as the darkness.