Director: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello
Release Date: October 25, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
When Rebecca left home, she thought she left her childhood fears behind. Growing up, she was never really sure of what was and wasn’t real when the lights went out…and now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that had once tested her sanity and threatened her safety. A frightening entity with a mysterious attachment to their mother, Sophie, has reemerged. But this time, as Rebecca gets closer to unlocking the truth, there is no denying that all their lives are in danger…once the lights go out.
‘Lights Out’ tells the terrifying tale of one family whose lives have been plagued by the terror and confusion revolving around a mysterious entity named Diana who can only be seen or cause harm when engulfed in darkness. After leaving home as soon as she was able, Rebecca (Palmer) is forced to return to the largely abandoned terror of her childhood when her younger brother Martin (Bateman) pleads for her help following a series of terrifying nighttime encounters. Unwilling to let her little brother suffer alone, Rebecca soon digs deeper into the past of their mother Sophie (Bello) only to discover that the entity seems to be tied to her following their meeting many years ago during a childhood hospital admittance previously unbeknownst to Rebecca or her brother. With their mother too far under Diana’s spell, these siblings must alone try and uncover a way to eradicate Diana for good before anyone else is harmed or worse as a result of her presence.
Directed by David F. Sandberg from a screenplay written by Eric Heisserer (Final Destination 5, The Thing 2011) which was based upon Sandberg’s own short film of the same name, Sandberg does an impressive job at the helm of the feature film version of ‘Lights Out’ (which also marks his feature film directorial debut) guiding the movie along with a creepy and beautiful style that fits perfectly. The film also owes a share of the credit to the capable individuals that comprise the limited cast including Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies), Gabriel Bateman (Annabelle), Maria Bello (A History Of Violence), Alexander DiPersia (TV’s 90210), and Billy Burke (TV’s Zoo) along with a few others, nearly all of whom deliver capable performances at the very least in each of their respective roles.
‘Lights Out’ is a relatively smart, adequately creepy and thoroughly entertaining horror film that while James Wan (director of Insidious, The Conjuring, and Saw) may only serve as a producer, it certainly follows his more common formula of opting for the maximum number of scares as opposed to buckets of blood and gore. Some explanation and back story feels painfully absent at times (although some of the storyline is a tad more fleshed out within the included Deleted Scenes) and may leave viewers somewhat confused as to what precisely is going on or how something came to be in a few instances. Fortunately these elements are mild and fairly easy for the viewer to let go of and when forsaking these mild questions and illogical moments and just allowing yourself to enjoy the film, it’s a creepy and well constructed scare fest that should easily excite many genre fans, particularly those who enjoy the ghost story genre recently made notable again by Wan himself along with a few other talented filmmakers. Capably guided by director David F. Sandberg who makes his feature film directorial debut with ‘Lights Out’ and featuring a number of more than capable performances by the minimal cast, it may not be a perfect film but is quite impressive overall and easily one of the best mainstream horror films I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing so far this year, and one I would definitely urge fellow genre fans to give a whirl.
Overall, ‘Lights Out’ is a well constructed and often quite creepy horror film that delivers no shortage of enjoyable scares and jump inducing moments, forsaking the blood and carnage for keeping the viewer unsettled and on edge which is always a far more impressive accomplishment. Guided with an eerie beauty and tension by director David F. Sandberg who makes a notable directorial debut with ‘Lights Out’ which was inspired by own short film, and complimented by the capable cast. I would highly recommend ‘Lights Out’ to the fellow horror fans that enjoy a creepy and just outright fun scare fest that should keep you on edge for the majority of its fast paced course. It’s one of the better mainstream horror films released so far this year and easily worth the cost of a rental at the very least.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Lights Out’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great as a whole and delivers a consistently sharp, detailed and clean presentation that suffers no notable faults throughout. It holds up quite admirably even during the numerous drastically dark sequences and never results in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. I would nonetheless strongly suggest watching this one in a dark setting as many sequences do become incredibly dark and a bit challenging to keep track of. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation from Warner Bros. that should easily please.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a crisp, clean and notably active audio presentation from start to finish. Frequently utilizing all five available channels in order to fully immerse the viewer within the on screen terror by sending plenty of creepy audio elements including creaking, scratching, door pounding and more throughout the various speakers, while never resulting in any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a wonderful 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that makes a perfect complement to the overall viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Lights Out’ includes only a single extra; a few ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the film (running approximately 14 minutes in length altogether) which features a notably extended ending to the movie.