Caught Lights Out last night.
Not bad. It was, in some ways, significantly better than I expected it to be, but which actually hurt the film because it exposed all the ways it fell short.
The best film to compare it to is probably Babadook, coz like Babadook it's a feature length version of a short film that's been doing the rounds forever. Unlike Babadook though, it doesn't really do anything more with the extra length (
) than it did in the short. Where Babadook took a theme that was barely hinted at in the original, there was no such corresponding theme in the Lights Out short.
It does, however, take something of a stab at introducing something new ( I thought, for instance, that it was going for 'Diana', the dark force that keeps dragging the mother back into the dark for being an allegory for depression
, but then that was either not meant to be the case, or was so clumsily handled that the movie ends up suggesting that the best solution for depression really is shooting yourself in the strawberry floating head)
, but never really takes anything to fruition.
It also shows it's short-film origins very early by blowing it's cinematic load far too early. It opens with basically a recut of the short film (complete with cameo from the original actress) in a 'let's get this scene out the way because you knew it was coming anyway' kinda move, but then doesn't really dial it down. The monster is constantly
on screen. But because it never really dialled down, it can't really ramp up either. So in the end, the whole film exists on one level of tension which means that you're bored of the same 'she's there-she's-there-she's-there-OMG-SHE'S-HERE' scare being repeated beat for beat about thirty times.
That said, the script is tight, the characters are likeable and the acting is pretty good by horror standards. Maria Bello does her best with her role, the leather-jacket boyfriend is a refreshing take on the trope, and even the kid doesn't get too annoying. That said, the monster gets huge amounts of backstory, but none of it really gels together. She would have been much more effective as just a shadow rather than (mother's dead childhood friend, WHO ALSO had some weird skin disease that made her look like Sadako BUT ALSO was killed by some light experiment thing BUT ALSO might have been magic anyway because she got inside peoples head BUT ALSO killed her own dad BUT ALSO something about being tethered to the mother BUT ALSO something about an asylum BUT ALSO some other bullshit
). It's also a pretty short film clocking in at about 1hr15m, (which is still a comfortable half hour after the film had really played every card it had).
Yea, not bad, better than you'd expect, but suffers from pacing issues ramping up the length. Had it taken it's sweet time to build the tension more in the first and second act then it could have been something really special.