In ‘Lights Out’ a clinically depressed mother (Maria Bello), her neglected son (Gabriel Bateman) and estranged daughter (Teresa Palmer) are plagued by a violent apparition that can only appear in darkness.
It’s a promising concept, reminiscent of Doctor Who’s ‘Blink’, and makes for some chilling, edge-of-seat sequences in the first act as the ghost flickers in and out of existence, and characters’ lives hang on whether they can reach a light switch in time.
However, this promise quickly gives way to a depressing arrangement of tired cliches. The paint-by-numbers plot is mind-numbingly predictable and the ghost’s early appearances, emphasising its creepiness and building up tension, are quickly abandoned in favour of a string of unsatisfying jump-scares. Not to mention that the explanation of the ghost’s origins is so astonishingly dumb that any residual sympathy for the film is immediately lost.
Worst of all is the introduction, late in the film, of a plot device which completely removes the creature’s on/off nature – the only interesting aspect of the movie – and turns the final act into a stock-monster chase around a darkened house.
In summary; it’s a disappointing waste of potential, with little worth seeing beyond the content of the trailer.
– by Chris Simpson