The biggest problem that I have with today's horror genre films is that no matter what the plot of the movie, they're all the same. These are not scary, unless ‘BOO in your face’ frightens you. The thought of demons running around a house, neighborhood, attic or basement, after a while, really isn't scary; it's funny. It's funny because you've seen it over and over and over and over and over again. So, explain to me, how that can be scary?
Lights Out is the extension of a 3-minute short film by Swedish filmmaker, David F. Sandberg, that was discovered by horror filmmaker, James Wan, and turned into a feature length film with studio backing. While it may have been interesting over the three minutes, it doesn’t work for a 90-minute feature film.
The young filmmakers, writers and directors of today really need to examine some of the icons in horror cinema, such as Alfred Hitchcock, Vincent Price and Boris Karloff. These classics were absolutely terrifying: House on Haunted Hill, The Fly (1958 version) and Psycho. These films were heavily character-driven, with less emphasis on the ‘boo in your face’ routines.
I once saw an interview with the master Alfred Hitchcock, where he explained his theory on “terrifying.” Two people sit at a table and a bomb goes off. ‘BOOM in your face’ may be shocking, but it's not scary. Now take the same scene with the two people sitting at a table oblivious to the fact that a bomb underneath is counting down to explosion. You watch as the clock ticks down, second by second—that is terrifying. You know it's going to explode, but when? That is what makes it terrifying, instead of just a bomb exploding.
The plot of this film is ludicrous. A supernatural presence is occupying a house and can only be observed when you turn the lights out. Martin (Gabriel Bateman), the young son of a psychotic mother Sophie (Maria Bello), falls asleep continually in school and reaches out for help from his estranged sister, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), in order to avoid being taken away by Child Protective Services. Let the fun begin.
The best part of this film was the beginning, where Paul (Billy Burke), Sophie’s new husband (the first one left her), is on the phone trying to convince her to see the psychiatrist to help with her anxiety issues. Of course, he just so happens to run into this supernatural presence at his office. Without giving anything away, he’s still in the lead for getting killed more times on screen than any other actor.
What I found most interesting about this film was that the audience was laughing almost constantly, and interrupted occasionally by a small scream, now and then.
While this is not my type of film, I will admit that Millennials will most likely love it. I fully expect that it will probably will be nominated for a Golden Globe by the Hollywood Foreign Press best comedy or musical.