“Lights Out” 2016 Review: Scares & Mental Illness

Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing the movie, “Lights Out.” I’ve been a horror movie buff since I was a kid. I love scary movies, especially paranormal ones about ghosts, demons, and other creatures that go bump in the night. I do like the slasher movies as well, but paranormal suspense has a special place in my heart.

I became a HUGE fan of director David Sandberg back in 2013 when he released the short film, “Lights Out – Who’s There”, which starred his wife, Lotta Losten. While the film was only 3 minutes, it was enough to scare the bejesus out of me and dread touching the light switch. The short caught the attention of James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring 1 & 2, Insidious), who ended up producing the movie.

If you’re not familiar with the short film, take a (literal) few minutes and watch it here:

Lights Out – Who’s There Film Challenge (2013) from David F. Sandberg on Vimeo.

Now let’s talk about the movie. The premise of the movie is that adults can have imaginary friends too. I didn’t realize how much this added to the creep factor until seeing the movie. If anything, the movie shows that adults can be more destructive than children when it comes to those sinister friends that [we think] no else can see.

I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I also thought how the movie touched on mental illness was handled with care, and also presented a forewarning. That forewarning is that the more we dwell on our condition, stop taking medication, shut out those who love us, and ignore the fact that there’s a problem, will cause one to descend into a downward spiral of losing the battle to that illness. That hit me personally, as I struggle immensely with depression and anxiety, and will often stew in my own negativity regardless of whose around me. I haven’t reached the point where I was forcing those around me to accept this as is like Sophie (played by Maria Bello), but there is a hard lesson learned. I was impressed with Teresa Palmer’s performance, and Alexander DiPersia was not only pretty to look at but played the concerned and protective “boyfriend” very well. The standout for me was little Gabriel Bateman who played Martin, and pretty much would reflect my actions should I ever be in a similar situation. Flashlights and candles…and lots of them!

These lessons aside, the movie was great for scares. I jumped several times throughout the movie and found myself saying “Aw heck no” to myself during the even scarier parts. The script is simple, the movie is a little short, and the characters are few. But this makes for a fairly solid horror film as it cuts right to the chase and focuses on the meat of the story rather than embellish it with the bones. It was also cool to see Lotta Losten make her cameo at the beginning of the movie.

In closing, the movie is worth the price of the ticket, and a night or two of sleeping with the lights on.

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