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Lights Out: Film Review

Lights Out: Film Review

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman, Billy Burke
Director: David Sandberg

Creating an atmospheric horror that's more a parable about the creeping darkness of depression is the MO of David Sandberg's expansion of his Lights Out short film.

In the James Wan produced flick, the monster haunting a family is Diana, a creature who disappears when the lights go on, but when the lights go out, it's full tilt terror. But at its heart, it's an effectively taut parable about depression that keeps an eye on jump scares as well.

Essentially, Teresa Palmer's Rebecca, a rocker who left home after her father walked out becomes concerned when her younger brother Martin (Bateman) starts displaying symptoms of sleeplessness and claiming that an entity is haunting his mother Sophie (Maria Bello). The reason she's so worried? Because these were exactly the fears she faced when younger....

So, taking Martin under her wing, Rebecca starts to face up to old fears once again....

Relatively taut (though occasionally bogged down with parts of backstory) first time director Sandberg's Lights Out is quite effective at dealing out chills and the obligatory jump scares. The strength in Lights Out comes from the casually dropping in elements of back story to illuminate the characters and expand on the familial straining of the ties and relationships.

But the whole piece works more effectively as a film about depression, as well as an occasionally dig your nails into the cinema chair fright fest. (That said, its ending and ultimate denouement is perhaps controversial in some aspects).

Palmer turns in a performance that's eminently watchable as the rocker daughter who thought life had moved on, but whose return home sees her having to face her fears, both literally and figuratively. As the kid in terror, Bateman fares well in parts, while in others, he succumbs to the trappings of the genre and becomes a screaming sibling; admittedly though, his selling of the creeping fear and dread early on is more than impressive as the house comes under greater siege from the unseen horror. (Equally stirring and note worthy is the soundscape of the film which works effectively to build an atmosphere of eerie unease.)

However, it's Bello's turn as Sophie, the mother under pressure from demons both within and without that really stands out as this allegory for the creeping black dog is brought to life. Tapping into her own real life fight against bipolar disorder clearly helps her, and the subtleties brought to the fore by Bello's simple facials and odd looks of terror work wonders to underscore the inherent fear within.

Ultimately, Lights Out is an effective and short chiller that does occasionally lapse into dumb horror movie territory, but seen as a wider cautionary tale about depression, it presents a more thoughtful allegorical piece to keep the horror genre fresh.


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Win a double pass to see DON'T BREATHE

Win a double pass to see DON'T BREATHE
To celebrate the release of the US Number 1 Box Office smash, Don't Breathe, I've got double passes to see the film!

About Don't Breathe

A group of friends break into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they'll get away with the perfect heist. They're wrong.
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Written by: Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues Produced by: Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Fede Alvarez
Executive Producers: Nathan Kahane, Joe Drake, Erin Westerman, J.R. Young, Mathew Hart
Cast: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang

Don't Breathe hits cinemas September 22nd

To enter simply email to this address: - simply CLICK HEREdarrensworldofentertainment@gmail.comand in the subject line put BREATHE 

Please include your name and address and good luck! NB Competition closes 22 September- editor's decision final!