Lights Out

Aug 21, 2016 | Posted by in Movies
Lights Out

There are evil things hiding in the dark in David F. Sandberg’s Light Out where a family are terrorised by a foe who attacks when the lights are off.

Pretty much everyone will have had a fear of the dark at some point in their lives. This makes for perfect horror film fodder as most people will be able to relate to what the film is trying to do. The most terrifying thing about the dark -at least as I see it- is the uncertainty. You can’t see so there is a gnawing feeling that something dangerous might be hiding there. In a nutshell that’s what this film is about.

The basic idea is that an entity has latched onto a family and terrorises them under cover of darkness. It can only act when the lights are out so things like lamps and torches are associated with safety in a very literal sense. As long as lights are on and the characters are bathed in light then they are safe. Once the lights go out everything becomes very dangerous.

Lights OutFor the most part the film does a great job setting a really tense and ominous mood. There are many scenes where characters huddle around faint light sources while unsettling scratching noises come from all around. More often than not this builds to a standard jump scare but they are executed quite well that some took me by surprise. I normally see them coming a mile off but there were a handful of instances where that didn’t happen.

This mood is enhanced by some really creepy imagery built around dimly lit shadows. Seeing the silhouette of a dangerous figure that comes closer as the lights go off and on is incredibly creepy and the film uses this to full effect throughout. Having the unknown hidden in the darkness is a terrifying prospect and this film constantly reminds the viewer that there is something in there that can strike at any time.

Effective imagery and mood building can only take a film like this so far. The characters are certainly important in this scenario because if they behave idiotically then it starts to feel like they deserve whatever grizzly end they are heading towards. Fortunately this film doesn’t have that problem with a selection of well written characters who are well equipped to deal with the problem.

Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) is the focus of the film; a teenage runaway estranged from her mother Sophie (Maria Bellow) and brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman). Rebecca isn’t especially well developed but Teresa Palmer makes her believable enough despite all of this and she handles this unusual situation with more competence than your average “scream queen”. Same goes for Martin who rises above the normal young child characterisation while being performed well by Gabriel Bateman.

The main issue that the film has is the attempt to flesh out a back story to explain why this is happening to this particular family. It’s entirely unnecessary and removes some of the menace from the antagonist. It’s not enough to rob the film of any terror but it feels out of place as well as not being fully explained anyway. If the whole thing had been left mysterious then the film would have been much better for it.


A solid horror experience with competent characters, an effective mood built up, creepy imagery and a good sense of terror throughout. The characters aren’t hugely well developed but the actors largely rise them above that and there’s an unnecessary attempt to explain a back story that only seems to fill time. Most of the scares are jump scares but they are used effectively. You could certainly do worse.

  • 7.5/10
    Lights Out - 7.5/10


Kneel Before…

  • strong acting
  • competent characters
  • an effective build up of mood and terror
  • impressive horror imagery

Rise Against…

  • an unnecessary backstory
  • underdeveloped characters
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