HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Lights Out
HTS Overall Score:73
I’m a huge horror buff. I make no bones about that. October is one of my favorite times of the year as we get catalog and new release horror movies on home video, and 2016 has been absolutely fantastic with some great releases. We’ve had the amazing new Vestron Video lineup from Lionsgate, some good Arrow releases (that I sadly haven’t reviewed here) as well as some fun new ones (and some horrible new ones). “Lights Out” was one of those films that caught my attention during the summer rush as the trailer was being played before every “adult” movie in the theater. The big push from that original trailer was the warehouse scene where you see the evil figure jumping from shadow to shadow as the overhead light flickered. That was enough to intrigue me and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the home video release to check it out. Sadly that bit in that bit in the trailer is really the best part of the film, but there is still enough scares and creepy moments to keep the fairly predictable horror flick going.
That warehouse scene is actually the opening bit of the movie. A gentlemen by the name of Paul (Billy Burke) is just calling his young son and vowing to come home and help him with his mentally ill wife when the lights start flickering and he sees this figure in the shadows. Every time the light turns on, though, she vanishes. Doing what any sane person would do, Paul decides to get out of there, only to (obviously) not make it. Fast forward a bit and the son, Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is having horrible dreams about a figure named Diana in his sleep. The family is reeling from the loss of Paul and Sophie (Maria Bello), the mother, is starting to lose it again. This prompts Martin’s Sister Rebecca (the lovely Teresa Palmer) to try and come in and lend a hand. This soon turns out to be a bit of a turning event, as this mysterious figure is not just stalking Paul. Rebecca and Martin begin to encounter the shadow monster and realize that this is closer to home than they realize.
What seemed like an old nightmare come to haunt them is now something much more real. A figure from Sophie’s past who has been invited into the home and now is wreaking vengeance on anyone who stands in the way of her obsession with mentally deranged Sophie. Not willing to let her brother and mother suffer at the hands of this demonic being, Rebecca musters every ounce of strength to fight the creature and beat it back to hell where it belongs.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82993[/img]Like I said in the opening paragraph. “Lights Out’s” best moments are in the trailer. That bit with the warehouse is truly creepy and disturbing, but what comes later is not nearly as good. The main problem with the film lies in the fact that not only is it rather predictable, but everything is just laid open on the table in a matter of fact manner. Rebecca and Martin and Sophie just divulge information like they’re talking about what to have with dinner, and that creates a dramatic lack of tension. It’s like two people talking about baseball scores. Unlike other films that unfold in similar manners, like “The Ring”, there is no sense of terror or dread with the reveals. Most of the scares come from the traditional PG-13 jump scares where Diana leaps out of the shadows and screams into your face just as the lights come back on. I will admit, though, that the ending “fix” to the demonic problem was something I didn’t see coming at all. Both myself and the friends I had watching the film with me turned to each other and said “now that was unexpected”.
The movie isn’t BAD though. It’s just sadly a bit predictable. The idea of a monster living in the shadows is quite fun, if not well worn, and the jump scares actually do have a few moments that legitimately scared the snot out of me and had me levitating a bit. Nothing is overly gory and gooey due to the PG-13 rating, but this is not some horrifying PG-13 flick that has no entertainment value. It’s just a sad case of too much being shown in the trailer and a rather lackluster unfolding of the crucial events in the story that made it a little less entertaining than it should be.
Rated PG-13 for terror throughout, violence including disturbing images, some thematic material and brief drug content
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=83001[/img]“Lights Out” is a very dark and dim film (as is the case with quite a few horror movies), but it is well done with only a few minor artifacts to keep the image from being great. Black levels are good, but there is some banding that comes into play (usually surrounding the beams of light trying to cut through the darkness, mainly around flashlight beams), and a few instances where the blacks appear a bit washed out. The color grading leans towards a very natural look, with some hot whites that push a bit towards blooming the very very few daylight scenes. Colors are very natural and there is a solid amount of primary pop in Rebecca’s apartment. The main house is more teal and grey with long moments of darkness that mute some of the colors, but overall the image is very stable and quite nice looking. Fine detailing is good, but not great and I did notice that the image is ever so slightly soft. Especially indoors.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=83009[/img]One of the most important (at least to me) aspects of a horror film is the audio mix. A good aggressive and highly active sound mix helps bring tension and terror in even when there is none on screen. “Lights Out” ascribes to that model of audio mixing and gives us a pretty hefty 5.1 DTS-HD MA track to enjoy. Bass is heavy and frequent, adding plenty of bang to the jump scares, as well as some goodly weight to the crashes, bangs and thuds that happen in the movie. Dialog is strong and clean, well anchored in the center channel and evenly balanced with the explosive moments of the film. Surrounds get a GREAT workout, with the scritchign and scratching that Diana does emanating from different portions of the soundstage, and a doorbell sequence near the end that actually made my buddy and I wonder if someone had just rang our bell!
• Deleted Scenes
“Lights Out” is a decently entertaining rental in the PG-13 horror genre, but fails to really make itself that memorable in the long run. The trailer had me a bit hyped for it and I was REALLY hoping for a slam dunk, but this is the horror genre which tends to contain more hits than misses (although “Lights Out” is less a miss than a middle of the road bunt than anything). Audio and video look and sound very impressive for the most part, but the film is devoid of any special features other than a handful of deleted scenes. Worth a rental if the trailer sparks your fancy.
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello
Directed by: David F. Sandberg
Written by: Eric Heisserer (Screenplay), David F. Sandberg (based on the short film)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1, English Descriptive Service DD 5.1
Runtime: 81 Minutes
Own Lights Out on Blu-ray or DVD on October 25 or Own It Early on Digital HD on October 11!
Buy Lights Out On Blu-ray at Amazon
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