Tuesday, 4 October 2016


Not since It Follows have we enjoyed an American horror movie this much. With Lights Out, David F. Sandberg has delivered one of the most fiendishly effective horror movies in years, a whip-smart exercise in terror that touches fears we have all felt at one time or another. Who hasn't seen a figure lurking in the dark only to find it has vanished when the lights turn on. It's one of the most effective tools in the horror genre when it's done right, but can it be sustained for a whole feature?

The premise couldn't be any more straightforward. When Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) left home, she thought she had left her childhood fears behind her. Growing up, she was afraid of what lurked in the shadows, and now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same terrifying events. Are they real or is the family touched by madness? Their Mother, Sophie (Maria Bello), seems to know more than she's letting on but the question remains, should they really be afraid of the dark when the lights go out?

If only every horror movie was made this way. Based on a three minute short, Lights Out is a chilling 80 minute roller-coaster ride that makes us care for the predicament the characters find themselves in. Cheap scares are few and far between here, and Sandberg is on point at every turn, never short of a new way to scare his audience half to death. The characters are refreshingly real, they make the right decisions at the right times, and just when you think the film is going one way, a flicker of light will screw with your senses and twist the knife in a whole new direction.

Tense, terrifying and genuinely unnerving, David F. Sandberg has set the benchmark for American horror 2016. Next up for him is the sequel to Annabelle, but I'm guessing this won't be the last we see (or don't see) of one of modern horrors most effective villains. Tipping its hat to the best of J-horror, Lights Out is the smartest and sharpest horror movie we have seen all year.

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