Hot Take: A generic low budget horror story with some cool visuals that placate our fear of the dark. Not scary enough to force me to keep the lights on though.
In no way, shape or form are you getting opinions from a horror aficionado at Movie Hot Take. While I definitely enjoy a good scare from time to time, it is not the genre of choice when it comes to movies. That being said, 2016 has been an especially weak year for horror films. Outside of The Witch, there really hasn’t been anything worth mentioning in the top half of 2016 movies unless you count Green Room as a horror movie.
Not counting Green Room, Lights Out is easily the second best horror flick screened by Movie Hot Take this year. While the story was generic, the scare tactic — a deranged dead girl lives in the dark — provided some excellent opportunity for director David F. Sandberg to deliver some cool effects and framing. There was also a solid balance of scares, story and even a few moments of comic relief. It’s not a new story at its core but the villain is mostly unique (although visually it looks borrowed from a J-horror film) and the movie’s pacing is fast enough to not dwell on any of the shortcomings.
If you want to be a naysayer, if you let yourself get caught up in how generic the story is without accounting for the villain’s unique ability to prey on victims in the darkness and not exist in light, it’ll probably sour the experience. Then again, earlier this year, we had a girl escape her domineering boyfriend by leaving the country to babysit a doll in The Boy, an Autistic kid accidentally transport demons across the country after finding a rock in The Darkness and a mom half follow the advice of her nanny to see her dead child one last time only to accidentally unleash a monster from the afterlife in The Other Side of the Door. There were a few others, too that weren’t even memorably bad enough to mention. So, Lights Out could have done a lot worse than a depressed mom whose mind manifests a friend who is a monster who terrifies her loved ones in the dark, I guess. Okay, now that sounds even more ridiculous than I originally thought. Just go enjoy being scared for an hour and twenty minutes and don’t think about it too much.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Faces Tell A Story
The main characters played by Teresa Palmer and Gabriel Bateman won’t blow you away with their acting but their faces enhance some moments of terror in the film. Palmer especially has the “scared as hell” look down and both are pretty convincing with their looks of fear.
- Playing On Your Worst Fears
Even the bravest person gets a little spooked by the dark from time to time and Lights Out does a great job of building on that fear. Plus, if you’ve ever been afraid of what’s under the bed or in your closet, this movie does you no favors. It’s not The Babadook but it definitely has a few moments that will stick with you once the credits roll.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Stripped Down, We’ve Seen It Before
If you rub away the shine provided by the uniqueness of the villain, Lights Out really doesn’t offer much new. The generic story doesn’t prevent the scares to stick with you but it does keep it from standing out.
- That Ending Though