Lights Out Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Warner Home Video
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Written by Eric Heisserer
2016, 81 minutes, Rated PG-13
Blu-ray released on October 25th, 2016
Teresa Palmer as Rebecca
Gabriel Bateman as Martin
Billy Burke as Paul
Maria Bello as Sophie
Alicia Vela-Bailey as Diana
When the Lights Out short blew up in 2014 and rightfully went viral, you just knew that it was a matter of time before Hollywood pumped out a full-length version. So, here we are, two years later and the feature film just hit Blu-ray. Two things surprised me about this whole thing: one, it took two years and, two, how not bad it is.
Maybe saying "not bad" is too much of a backhanded compliment because overall, I really dig this film; much more than I thought I would because I honestly figured it would be a half-assed money grab of a movie. But the filmmakers actually put some time into creating an interesting backstory on the creature that lives in the darkness, terrorizing the children of Sophie, a woman who has had mental health issues her entire life... I'm getting ahead of myself.
The short of it is Sophie is crazy and seems to have this being always around her, a creature that disappears when the lights are on (you really should have watched the short up there by now). Her daughter, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), got the hell out at the first opportunity, leaving her little bro Martin (Gabriel Bateman) behind. Well, Martin reaches out to his big sister because some weird shit is going down at the house, he's getting no sleep at all (who could, really, when there is a creepy demon-like thing keeping you up all hours of the night), and now it's affecting his school work. At first, Rebecca decides to get custody of her brother to get him out of that house of insanity, but after he explains what he's been seeing, Rebecca realizes that what she thought wasn't real actually is, but it's also dangerous, so she decides to try and rid the family of this unwanted house guest once and for all. LOL WHITE PEOPLE.
I have to admit, I went into Lights Out with no expectations at all. I dug the hell out of the short, but I also thought there couldn't be much more done with it because it works so well in that limited time. However, much to my surprise, the film works, mainly for two reasons. The first is the powers that be made the wise decision to get the guy who created the short, David F. Sandberg, and put him in the director's chair. I mean, really, let the person who had the original vision take that vision further? Who approves such madness! The second reason is Lights Out clocks in at about 81 minutes. It's just enough time to cram in some scares and enough story so you're thoroughly entertained the entire time.
And entertaining it is. Sure, there are jump scares, and as much as I hate those, I'm coming to terms with them. However, in Lights Out, for every jump scare, there's an equally terrifying moment that makes up for it. Numerous scenes throughout the film creeped me out, but one in particular, where Diana (the woman who simply cannot stand the light) is scratching into the wood floor terrified me. There's no jump there, the film focuses on her for a moment for you to get the gist of what she's doing, and the entire time you want to turn away and scream at Rebecca to run out of the house with you. But, apparently, staring at a demon scratch words into a floor is perfectly normal.
Eric Heisserer's script is hit and miss. On one hand, he does a great job with what he had to work with, creating an interesting enough background for Diana, as well as developing some rather three-dimensional characters for what is arguably a film riding off the coattails of a brilliant short and made just to be a money grab. However, for every success within the script, there is also failure. Rebecca has sworn that she will protect Martin because that's what a big sister does, but it seems at every opportunity, she's leaving him behind. In one particular scene, the lights go out and she goes to investigate with a flashlight, leaving the boy in the dark room with only a weak ass candle. Who does that (I mean, besides my own sister)? This is frustrating because Heisserer clearly has the talent to rise above horror's clichés but there are many times where he just doesn't bother. And don't get me started on the anti-climactic ending. It's pretty weak.
At the end of the day, Lights Out is definitely worth a watch because even with its at times lazy script, there are plenty of scares to be found. According to IMDB, a sequel has already been announced, and I'm on board with that. Check your brain at the door, relax, and have the crap scared out of you a few times in 80 minutes.
Video and Audio:
As you might suspect, much of Lights Out takes place in shadows and darkened rooms, and the picture never misses a beat. There are various degrees of shadow from inky black to "is...is there something standing there?" and it all looks great.
The DTS-MA 5.1 soundtrack gives your surrounds a healthy workout, and there were many times I would hear something scattering behind me, but I was too pansy to turn around and verify it was just the film and not Diana paying me a visit.
- Deleted Scenes
The only offered feature are three deleted scenes (13:58). All are interesting enough, but two serve as exposition on an otherwise very lean film, and the movie is best off without them. The third, however, appears to be an alternate or extended ending. There's no way to tell for sure as there's no description or offered commentary, but as an alternate ending it's just as bad as the one kept (although not quite as lame). If, however, it was an extension that was cut, it was the right call because it simply wouldn't work otherwise. It would feel too tacked on. Plus, the line, "If she comes back again, we'll be even stronger next time..." is cringe-inducing.