It’s been a strange year for horror fans. Traditional supernatural storylines have failed to provide substance or bite, such as the timid, clichéd The Boy. In their place, films that straddle the genre line between psychological thriller and horror have proved the real winners, films like the impeccable The Green Room and the unsettling The Gift.
So Yalla approached Lights Out with optimism, buoyed by generally positive reviews and based on one of the greatest short horror films to surface on YouTube for a long time.
David F. Sandberg, director of that original short, takes the helm at the long form project capably, but would have benefitted from working alongside a writer with tighter craft than horror remake and sequel specialist Eric Heisserer. The plot and script just about keep pace with Final Destination 5, Heisserer’s most recent outing, 5 years ago.
Lights Out presents the monster in the opening 5 minutes, and sets the tone with lots of bangs and heavy edits. It’s immediately clear that this film relies on shock to obscure its confused central premise of a monster that cannot be seen in the light. It should have been kept simple. Had it been, this had the potential to excite and intrigue, as well as make the audience spill its popcorn at every BANG.
However, by layering an overly complex, and ultimately contradictory backstory, onto a canvas of genre-literate tropes and set-pieces (some of which are embarrassingly signposted), Lights Out struggles to maintain the menace it sets out to achieve by cranking up the jump-scare machine in the opening minutes.
With fans starved of a decent supernatural horror movie for so long now, it’s no surprise that horror mogul James Wan is seeing an almost $150 million dollar return on his initial $5 million budget. A sequel is already in production.
Yalla’s rating: 2 / 5