"Wait here – I'm going to possibly abandon you while I search for a ghost that might kill both of us." Martin (Gabriel Bateman) looks on as his big sister Rachel (Teresa Palmer) gets ready to check out something weird with her blacklight in a scene from director/co-writer David F. Sandberg's supernatural thriller LIGHTS OUT. Credit: Ron Batzdorff © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment. All rights reserved.


 Maria Bello, Theresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Andi Osho and Billy Burke

WRITER(S): Eric Heisserer and David F. Sandberg (Based on the short film by)

DIRECTOR(S): David F. Sandberg


THE STORY AS BEST WE KNOW IT: Rachel (Teresa Palmer) moved out of her parents' home eons ago. After all, after her father left the family, her mother Sophie (Mario Bello) broke down and kind of went full-on crazy ... Which shouldn't be surprising given what happens to her second husband (Billy Burke). Thus, once her little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) falls asleep for the third time in a week at school and Sophie doesn't respond to the calls of Child Protective Services Officer Emma (Andi Osho), Rachel has to step up and come pick him up. 

While Bret (Alexander DiPersia) is more concerned about trying to get her to let him stay over, Rachel has another concern once Martin reveals that mommy's friend Diana has been seen at the house. Who is Diana you ask? Just the evil spirit of the girl who had a rare skin condition that made her super sensitive to light AND had the ability to get into people's heads who met Sophie at the same California mental institution they both attended as kids. Now still attached to her only "friend" Sophie in adulthood, Diana is now seemingly targeting Martin just like she used to do Rachel.

Realizing their mother may be unable to do anything to help, Rachel and Martin are going to do their best to stop Diana before she strikes again ... As long as they can keep the lights from going out.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS MOVIE THE MOST? People who like pretty much all supernatural thrillers filled with evil spirits and plenty of setup "jump" scenes; people enjoy movies so not good they almost feel like genius entertainment; Anyone who likes to mess with their friends who are scared of the dark or those who are easily scared

WHO WILL HATE THIS MOVIE THE MOST? People tired of mediocre horror movies that rely on predictably set-up "jump scenes;" movies that feel like tired versions of 80s horror movies; people expecting this film to be on a Conjuring-level of intensity since current horror movie master James Wan serves as an executive producer; people tired of seeing certain stereotypes in horror movies; Maria Bello fans

SO IS IT GOOD, GREAT, JUST ALL RIGHT OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? I would like you to watch the following short movie, which was first uploaded to YouTube back in March of 2014. Interesting right? Now, go back up top and watch both of those two trailers. Do those seem to have the same interesting spirit of that short film, which was just under 3 minutes long? If the answer to you is yes, then you'll likely enjoy Lights Out

If you watch those two trailers and think you've essentially seen the best parts of the – and nearly the entire – movie, Lights Out will be entertaining ... Mostly because of how you'll know what's coming long before its one-dimensional characters do as you laugh making fun of the silliness found wherein. 

Mario Bello should be better than this. It's like watching Ruben Blades in Fear the Walking Dead ... Or (SPOILER ALERT) it was before his character, much like Bello's here, started hearing voices in his head, went a little looney and got killed off, thus eliminating one of the few likable characters on an otherwise awful show. (I know I'm not alone in that assessment, so if you like that show, good for you. Anyway ...) Lights Out follows too many standard modern horror movie tropes: [1] There's the haphazard explanations of Diana's evil origins (either go full blast or don't do it at all); [2] There's too many "We the audience know this is a bad idea" moments; [3] The "Here come the scenes to make jump in your seat" moments are too predictable even at the most base level and [4] The one dimensional characters, despite spirited (pun intended) performances by its young cast members in Palmer and Bateman, aren't dynamic enough to do anything but make you say "well, let's see what happens even though if they all die, I'm cool with that." This isn't The Conjuring 2.5; this is ... Slightly better than Annabelle (so if you enjoyed that piece of hot garbage, you'll love this)!

Throw in the [5] "Wait – that's it?" ending and the use of [6] expendable minority characters and there's nothing strong enough about Lights Out to make you terribly excited once the lights go out in the theater. While Diana's WWE-like move set does produce a couple of "Ooh, that's gotta hurt" moments, there's nothing long-lasting enough to make you anymore afraid of the dark than you already are (or likely are not). Then again, in a summer that is dearth with horror movies, Lights Out is one of those "So not good it's kind of genius" little diversions that, while instantly forgettable, could be classified "dumb fun" – especially if you see it with a (yes, as an African-American film reviewer, I'm going to say it) predominantly ethnic, stereotypical-but-in-a-good-way audience that talks back to the screen when things happen. 

I just hope there's no sequel – because that's when I will really have to tune out on Lights Out



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