Based on a 5 minute viral video, Lights Out almost outstays its welcome by the end but its simple premise works well to sustain interest. Director David Sandberg does a good job of coming up with some creative uses of the shadow-loving demon and its also refreshing to watch a horror where the main characters aren’t complete inept.
The story follows Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) who grows up experiencing strange occurrences where the lights go out. Shadows creep up the walls and something lurks in the depths of the room waiting to strike. After leaving home, Rebecca feels like she’s free of the shadows that haunt her but when her little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) starts experiencing the same frightening visions she did, Rebecca is led back to the house they grew up in to get to the bottom of what the creature is and more importantly, what it wants.
Although the original viral video was actually had scarier, Lights Out still does a very good job of keeping tension high throughout and surprisingly manages to maintain it through a solid climax. Usually with horror films the final third breaks immersion in favour of a more action-orientated showdown with whatever the evil is but thankfully Lights Out doesn’t follow this trend. It never loses its tension, even if the finale does have a quicker pace and more action. The way shadows and light are used here is extremely creative and you can see the fun they had in choreographing a well-paced finale to this horror.
For me, the stand out here is most definitely the character actions which are surprisingly well done and realistic. We understand why they’re in the house trying to stop the demon, it makes sense for them to do it and the originality shown here spills over to other areas of the film too. Lights Out is crafted with enthusiasm and a solid script and although it could be scarier, its length is just long enough to justify its existence. If it had been longer I feel the film would have suffered for it but thankfully its 80 minute run time is just right.
Overall, Lights Out is a good, original film that, whilst its scares aren’t as intense as other horrors, is a fun ride while it lasts. The use of light and shadow is used to good, creative uses here and its premise, whilst simple, is effective enough to make it intriguing to watch. Its not the best horror in the world but its a solid watch all the same and one I would certainly recommend.