© Warner Bros. Pictures Germany

Lights Out
U.S.A. 2016

Opening 4 Aug 2016

Directed by: David F. Sandberg
Writing credits: Eric Heisserer, David F. Sandberg
Principal actors: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello, Alexander DiPersia, Billy Burke

Lights Out is a well-acted psychological thriller with all the trappings. By the time the film title is revealed, there have already been two jump-worthy sequences. Director David F. Sandberg presents the all-knowing child, well played by Gabriel Bateman; the plucky streetwise and commitment phobic heroine, Teresa Palmer, who delivers a strong performance; and the crazed middle-aged mother, Maria Bello, who again shows her ability to provide a nuanced performance in material that is somewhat shallow. In a role reversal, the long-suffering boyfriend, Alexander DiPersia, is following the lead of his lady. Mr. DiPersia seems so comfortable in his own skin that this is in no way out of character. By the way, I am not surprised to see that Ms. Palmer is starring in several films in the coming months.

This is Swedish director Sandberg’s first film, but he clearly shows potential. He is a self-taught YouTube sensation, whose short of this film generated more than 100 million views. The film pays homage to some of the tropes of the genre - a murderous villain, creepy lighting, close-ups of turning doorknobs, scratching sounds, answers found via old documents, and if you have any fear of the dark, then be prepared to have a few nightmares after watching this 80 minute film. It is also an allegory for depression, but what the ending says about it, I’m happy to say I disagree. (Laura Langford)

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