The Attic: ‘Lights Out’ Film Review *SPOILERS*
Welcome to The Attic. Leave the lights on!
One of my favorite ways to get scared is to watch horror shorts on YouTube. If you haven’t yet, you really should watch some of these. The good ones (and there are a lot) pack some serious punch! For example, I still can’t get into bed in the dark without using my phone to make sure my husband’s figure is really him. It is quite extraordinary how much these everyday people on virtually no budget can terrify you in such a short amount of time. Lights Out is by far one of my favorite horror shorts I can ever seen.
Written and directed by David F. Sandberg, this short is about an unnamed woman (played by Lotta Losten, Sandberg’s wife) who sees a dark figure in the hallway whenever she turns the lights off. She flips the switch off and on, trying to comprehend what is going on. Suddenly as the room goes dark again the figure is closer to her, and she jumps back in fear. After duct taping the lights on, she goes to bed and tries to get some sleep… This doesn’t end well. In under 2 and a half minutes, this short has given me more chills than many horror movies.
However, one of my favorite parts is when you can’t even see this figure. As the woman is laying in bed, she hears the slow creak of footsteps moving towards her. They speed up and it’s like something she can’t even see is running towards her bed. I find that to be highly unnerving to imagine. As I’ve said before, what you can’t see is often scarier than what you can see.
Now that we know where the film Lights Out originated from, let’s get into it.
David F. Sandberg returns to direct this feature-length version, and while he does a good enough job, it falls flat. This movie is like a bad sequel to a great horror film that over-explains why the villain exists. The vast majority of the time the horror genre is best when the “why?” or “how?” is left unanswered. For me, the only bright spot was Losten’s cameo to recreate her scene in the short for the film. She soon disappears and the story transitions into a broken family’s troublesome situation.
Sophie (Maria Bello) is the mentally ill mother who encourages the appearance of this figure, “Diana.” Her adult daughter, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) is trying to step in when she realizes that her younger brother is suffering due to their mother’s problems. Rebecca believes their mother is sick, and is angry that she has gone off her meds. As Rebecca realizes Diana is a real threat to her whole family, she gets her boyfriend involved. They all work together to try and survive this creature that lives in the dark. It seems fruitless until Sophie realizes that Diana will live as long as she does, and the mother sacrifices her own life to banish Diana for good.
I will say that I did like Rebecca and her boyfriend, Bret (Alexander DiPersia), who really sticks by her despite the insane situation they are in. Sophie drove me insane with her support of this demonic-type entity living in her house. She has encouraged Diana’s presence due to lingering guilt, but in the process she almost destroys the lives of her own children.
The Lights Out film explains far too much, and that kills any possibility of it being scary. I would much rather watch the short over and over than watch this film again. In fact, this is making me want to return to YouTube to make a list of my favorites. If you can watch it for free, give Lights Out a chance. If you can’t, save your money and watch the short instead. You’ll be better off.