So I just saw the most recent horror film “Lights Out”, and it was alright. The movie certainly creeped me out a couple of times, but I feel like it was lacking in many areas.
Teresa Palmer of “The Choice” played an acceptable character that was interesting enough to keep my attention (and no, it’s not just because she’s attractive). She seemed damaged, aloof, yet reluctantly caring about her estranged family. The boyfriend-ish character was alright, but his character really only serves to add additional layers to Palmer’s character; there really was no other terms I could use to describe him besides “he’s a good guy” and “he likes Palmer’s character”.
The child actor was not the best. I can’t say that he was bad in all of his scenes, but he spent well over half of the movie delivering his lines awkwardly, making unintentionally weird faces, and overall breaking character. There were quite a few different times where his acting took me out of the movie which is kind of a problem if you want to keep your audience scared.
But all of these characters (as well as the other ones I didn’t mention) are serviceable enough to be interesting, but not much else. There are no true scenes that delve into the characters in a fascinating way.
This is partly due to the script; some of the dialogue was acceptable, but there were a lot of lines that simply lacked inspiration and/or self-restraint. Any other pieces of dialogue were obnoxiously expository. Here, I’ll give you an example.
<Spoiler I guess> So there is a scene around the beginning the movie where Palmer’s character is picking up her little brother from child services. Now the child service agent asks Palmer if she heard about her dad dying (because there’s a man that dies in the beginning of the movie), and she says “Step-dad, he was my step dad. My real dad bailed on us and I never heard from him again.” Now keep in mind that Palmer’s character is an aloof person who pushes everyone away, and she’s blurting her daddy issues to this person she’s never met. It’s so out of character that I can’t help but realize that the second half of this dialogue piece is mainly to spoon-feed the audience information. If we were to ever learn about what happened to Palmer’s real dad, it should have been later in the movie to someone that she finally decides to trust. </Spoiler I guess>
Now the actual object of horror was rather intriguing, and I liked how it played off of people’s fear of the dark, and I did not have a problem with the explanation as to how the object of horror was attached to the family to begin with.
However, the movie doesn’t always do the best job with her abilities. There’s a scene where Palmer’s door is being knocked on (which I immediately predicted was the monster), and she opens to the door to her apartment, and it’s an empty hallway… that is completely lit up, to which I thought, “Isn’t the monster not able to exist in lit up areas? I guess I’m not supposed to think about it.”
Then there’s other scenes where a character is in a completely dark room and they’re shining a flashlight in front of them, and I can’t help but have a voice in my head that’s shouting “the creature should be behind you because there’s no light behind you”. But nope, they’re safe because, I don’t know.
I understand these critiques are a bit nitpicky, but a movie should get better the more you think about it, not worse, and the more I thought about this movie, the more nonsensical it became.
There are quite a few jump-scares in this movie. Now there are a lot of people I know who seem to think that jump-scares = bad, but I think a horror movie is well within its rights to have them provided they don’t use any “false” jump-scares. Lights Out does use most of its jump-scares legitimately, so I don’t see the point in criticizing it.
Some of the character logic made absolutely no sense. There are so many scenes where a character gets scared or has been scared by the object of horror, but instead of running back to safety like any normal freaking human would, they investigate the scary thing in the dark by themselves, and this completely contradicts normal human behavior. There were other times where a character splits up with another character(s) only to have it backfire on them every time.
Honestly, horror movie creators need to learn that sacrificing character logic to get some scares in is cheap and is a detriment to the final product of the story.
But then again, horror movies these days are just massively low-budget films that are no-risk business investments. The reason most horror movies are crap is because they are so cheap to make and almost always make their money back and then some.
Luckily, even though this movie failed at being exceptional, it was able to create interesting enough characters, a viable object of horror, and a story that doesn’t completely fall apart. Sure, the characters can be stupid and the premise isn’t always thought out completely, but Lights Out is an alright movie to watch. If you’re hoping to find a horror movie that is exceptional, then I would wait until The Conjuring 2 comes out on Red Box.