‘Lights Out’ review (of sorts)

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June 27, 2017 by Hope W.

Annabelle: Creation — the sequel to the creepy doll spin-off from The Conjuring — is getting great early reviews! Not that I’m going to watch it, because I generally avoid horror movies like the plague. I’m mentioning it because David F. Sandberg, who directed the film, also did Lights Out, which I happened to watch on the plane on my recent trip to the UK, and thought was really good. The person diagonal to my front left was watching it with English subtitles, and I could not help but catch glimpses of it through the armrest gap.

Teresa Palmer as Rebecca in Lights Out

The concept of Lights Out is simple: the ghost appears when the lights are off, but when you switch them on, she disappears. Switch them off, she reappears, closer to you than before. She also inhabits the dark shadows of dim rooms. Since the reason I avoid horror movies is because my overactive imagination makes me imagine things when I’m alone in the dark, this movie should bring my worst nightmares to life. But Diana, the ghost in this movie, is linked specifically to Sophie (Maria Bello), the mother of the protagonist Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) and her younger brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman). It made it easier to stomach, since my parents have no such imaginary friends as Diana, so I feel safe at least.

Gabriel Bateman as Martin and Teresa Palmer as Rebecca in Lights Out

Rebecca always had an estranged relationship with her mother, who wasn’t mentally stable to begin with, after her father disappeared when she was young. When her stepfather dies (killed by the ghost, though they didn’t know it yet), and her younger brother complains of insomnia after he is frightened by the same ghost and sees their mother talking to her imaginary friend Diana, Rebecca thinks her mother is deliberately not taking her meds again and being a bad mother to Martin. But one night, Rebecca sees the ghost appearing and disappearing when the lights blink on and off in her apartment, and she is terrorised by it. She and her boyfriend Bret (Alexander DiPersia) discover that her mother isn’t delusional after all, and Diana is connected to Sophie’s past.

Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), Sophie (Maria Bello) and Martin (Gabriel Bateman) in Lights Out

Even without sound, I found the images scary. But the story was interesting, which was why I continued sneaking frequent glances at my neighbour’s screen despite wishing I could look away completely. If I had internet connection on the flight, I would have wiki-ed the movie synopsis and been done with it, but I couldn’t. With sound, I bet the movie is even more terrifying. (Unless I’m just be a scaredy-cat, and horror aficionados don’t find the movie frightening. I wouldn’t know — I have zero tolerance for horror movies, and don’t intend to build it up.)

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