Summary and Review of Lights Out - Big Thrills in a Small Package

Rebecca: Teresa Palmer
Martin: Gabriel Bateman
Bret: Paul DiPerisa
Sophie: Maria Bello
Director: David F. Sandberg
Writer: David F. Sandberg and Eric Heisserer


"Lights Out" wastes no time with an opening that immediately grabs the viewer's attention and sets the heart racing. Paul, working late, receives a call from his worried son, Martin, regarding his mother's mental state and assures him that he is working on a solution. Meanwhile, his assistant alerts Paul to the presence of someone in the building. As he prepares to leave for the night, he encounters Diana, the malevolent antagonist, who can only be seen in the dark and she swiftly hunts him down in a vicious revenge attack.

Following this explosive start, Martin starts experiencing his mother's chilling nocturnal ramblings, and is so terrified that he is unable to sleep through fear of what might happen. When this leads to him falling asleep in the classroom, it triggers a call to Child Protection Services, bringing Martin's fiercely independent sister, Rebecca, into the picture.

Rebecca, with her devoted boyfriend Brett in tow, distanced herself from the family some years before. Still, her affection for Martin brings her back into the fold and she returns him to their mother's home, where he reveals that their mother, Sophia, talks to Diana. Rebecca assures him that Diana isn’t real although it’s clear that she has had the same experience in the past.

After a fractious meeting with Sophia, Rebecca decides to take Martin under her wing for the night but events take a terrifying turn when she wakes up to mysterious noises and a shadowy figure lurking in the dark. Galvanised into action, there follows a breakneck adventure as Rebecca, Martin and Bret, join forces to uncover the origins of Diana and her connection to their mother.



With James Wan as one of the producers, you can expect well-crafted jump scares that you might see coming but that still manage to catch you off guard. The clever use of lighting is crucial in a film where the majority of the action takes place in the dark and "Lights Out" nails it. Faces are captured in an eerie glow, pools of light hint at something lurking just out of sight and Diana is frighteningly visible one minute and then melts away only to reappear when you least expect it. In less capable hands, this could have become a mish-mash of dimly lit and confusing edits but the lighting design, direction and editing are on point and keeps the narrative tight and coherent.

The storyline is simple and efficient and races along at pace making it feel like the viewer is being unceremoniously steered towards the final act in readiness for the epic showdown. Having said that, it’s action-packed and great fun as Rebecca, Brett and Martin pit their wits against the malice of Diana. While the film could have used more character development, especially for Sophia, and delved deeper into the mystery surrounding Diana, the thrilling third act more than makes up for any shortcomings.

The cast excels in portraying Rebecca and Martin's efforts to rebuild their relationship amidst all the horror and Bret, in his role as the helpful innocent, ably supports his fellow actors. Sophia was great but sadly, her onscreen appearances were few and I would have liked to have seen more of her as she grappled with the fraying edges of her reality.

In short, "Lights Out" is smart, taut, and tightly packed with 80 minutes of pure entertainment. It doesn't give you a moment to breathe, and it'll keep you on the edge of your seat right until the thrilling, and not quite predictable, end.

4/5

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