Lights Out full movie review - A few holes, but definitely worth a watch for horror fans.
In most respects, a supernatural horror movie is neither more nor less difficult to create than any other kind of movie. Certainly today's advanced special-effects technology makes the creation of any sort of horrifying image you can imagine easily possible given enough money in the budget. If you can think of it, you can create that image on film. Or whatever the recording medium du jour may be.
But a supernatural horror story line has intrinsic dimensions of difficulty associated with it far beyond those of any other genre. The story lines of movies about adventure, comedy, romance, history and so on are much simpler to write than supernatural horror. Most story genres allow you to focus merely upon the elements of the story itself because most story genres presume the same basic laws of physics and natural context with which we are all familiar in our daily lives. Both the author and the audience are intrinsically familiar with reality and most genres of stories occur in essentially the same reality in which our own lives occur. In writing the story the author more or less automatically knows the reality rulebook and knows where the boundaries lie. If the author of a spy story has James Bond fly away in a helicopter that sprang from his lapel flower, nobody's going to buy it and generally everybody knows why.
But with a supernatural horror story the author is forced to fabricate an entire collection of new laws of physics ALONG WITH all of the rest of the story activity and then try to remain consistent with their own new reality rulebook. It's almost impossible to do well and predictably it's where most supernatural horror stories tend to fall apart most completely.
And so it is with "Lights Out".
Given the fact that "Lights Out" hails from Warner Bros., a major movie studio if ever there was one, the general quality of the movie is far above average. All of the elements whose quality is simply a matter of spending an appropriate amount of money are adequately high. The acting isn't to die for but it's more than tolerable for the picture, the special-effects and CGI do everything they need to do, and so on.
But no amount of money can guarantee you a great storyline, or even a passable one, and with supernatural horror, it also can't guarantee you that the plot won't have more holes than Swiss cheese or be anything other than a festering mess.
The entire premise of the bogeyman? excuse me? bogeyWOMAN... is that her fatal weakness is any sort of visible light (other than black light?). So, clearly, in fending off "Diane" (our supernatural villain), one must absolutely make certain of being in possession of lots and lots of reliable visible lighting. So...Do our protagonists disco on down to the local Home Depot for all the lighting and batteries they can carry? Of course not. They face it all with a couple of iffy flashlights (with more accent on "iffy" then ANYONE could possibly justify) and some candles. Uh huh... Candles. And the moron boyfriend, after first carefully demonstrating to himself the critical necessity of having a very bright flashlight in one's hand at all times immediately precedes to use the only flashlight he has as a hammer on a doorknob. Big surprise when soon thereafter he no longer is in possession of a working flashlight.
The entire city has a power outage at precisely the worst possible moment.
The origin story of the bogeywoman is vague at best.
Sometimes Diane the bogeywoman simply vanishes with the application of light, and sometimes she burns as if the light disintegrates her.
While there is clearly a deep relationship between the mentally defective mother character and Diane the bogeywoman, the fact that Diane can be destroyed by killing the mother character is a complete surprise. This just pops out of nowhere at the end of the picture when needed.
Trust me, this is just a Whitman sampler of frailties of the movie. There are many more unlisted.
All of this having been said, it's a rather sad commentary on supernatural horror pictures that, this somewhat clunky storyline notwithstanding, this is definitely one of the better supernatural horror pictures in recent times. Generally, EVERY supernatural horror picture really struggles with self-consistency that tends to pick away at the "willing suspension of disbelief", it's always just a question of how much and how badly it flaps into your face, often effectively obscuring your enjoyment of the movie. All in all, "Lights Out" is definitely one of the better examples of the genre.
SOME of the scenes are actually quite stellar. There's one scene where the primary heroin is sound asleep in her room, conveniently almost fully dressed, and a flashing red neon sign is flooding the room with intermittent red light. A scratching noise wakes her up. She has not yet fully tuned into the fact that there is a Thing That Goes Bump in the Night that has returned to refocus its attentions on her and her family, and so she sleepily assumes the vague dark figure making the scratching noise on the floor in the middle of the doorway is her little brother.
The intensely focused, slow burn in her face as the realization of what's happening in the scene begins to dawn on her is a superb job of acting and a thoroughly terrifying visual experience. Perhaps I'm forgiving, but that one scene would be worth the price of admission for most supernatural horror pictures.