Most horror movies these days rely on a gimmick and, although Lights Out is no different, it does its gimmick really really well.
Lights Out, based on a short movie that was totally awesome, tells the story of a tormenting spirit who can only appear in the dark and can be defeated by switching on a light… which would work just fine, but she can also screw with the lights and make them turn off again.
Anyway, without giving too much away, the family being tormented by this ghost must uncover the mystery of who she is and figure out how they can get away from her alive!
If you’re going to use a gimmick to set your movie apart, you own it and you make your gimmick memorable and that’s just what Lights Out did. This movie isn’t ambitious and doesn’t set out to be a game-changer, but it does exploit its gimmick in some very creative ways and come up with a very menacing monster that is actually pretty darned scary.
What amazed me most about this movie was how some characters can be incredibly stupid while others are probably the smartest I’ve seen in horror movies in a long time. The sister character, knowing that there is a murderous spirit traipsing about the house, mindlessly leaves her little brother unattended and still asleep while her boyfriend makes a daring escape from the creature, outsmarting and outmaneuvering it at every turn in a sequence that only gets more and more entertaining and exciting as it goes on. He also gets the cops which is… honestly, why don’t more horror movie characters do this?
I appreciate a lot of things about this movie. I appreciate how focused it is, I appreciate its creativity, and I appreciate that it doesn’t feel the need to clutter up its taught script with unnecessary bull to pad its runtime. This film has a mission from the opening act and sets all of its energy on that mission and seeing a movie tell a story in such an efficient and focused way is refreshing. The fact that it’s actually scary is a welcome bonus.