An American nanny is shocked that her new English family's boy is actually a life-sized doll. After she violates a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.
A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.
A man called Paul is working after hours and is murdered by a supernatural entity in the shadow. When his son, the boy Martin, is frightened by the same creature, he sees his mother Sophie talking to an imaginary friend called Diana in the shadow of her room. Martin does not sleep anymore during the night. His older step sister Rebecca who lives alone is summoned by the social assistant. She brings Martin home and recalls her own experience with Diana years ago when she was young. Sophie and her boyfriend Bret investigate the connection of Sophie with Diana and come up to a scary revelation about their past. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
David F. Sandberg was hired to direct Annabelle 2 (2017) after working on this film and began pre-production before this was released in theaters. See more »
When the social worker is talking to Rebecca, she asks if Martin is her brother. Rebecca responds that they are step-siblings. This is factually untrue since we learn later on in the movie that they both have the same mother. Therefore, they are half-siblings, not step-siblings. See more »
Lights Out takes some queues from Japanese-styled ghost stories, so it will be attractive to that audience. It has a strong chill-factor but a somewhat average formula, and it could have used fewer back-story explanations to make it more mysterious, especially since those elements did not feel original.
Based on chill factor alone, it ranks higher than Dark Water, The Forest, Paranormal Activity, The Others, The Babadook, and The Boy, and lower than The Ring, Ju-On / The Grudge, and other Japanese-styled ghost stories, as well as any horror James Wan himself directs. Comparing it to masterpieces like The Exorcist and Poltergeist has no value.
I would say its chills rank somewhat evenly with The Woman in Black and It Follows, without being as original as the latter.
The ghost itself is creepy enough, but the overall movie didn't have the creative twists that we enjoyed from movies like The Boy, The Others, The Sixth Sense, and 10 Cloverfield Lane. It also didn't have the storytelling chemistry of James Wan's own Insideous or The Conjuring movies.
I am a fairly difficult person to frighten. I have been seeing horror movies at the theater since the 70's, and I am usually only interested in the ones that have a supernatural or fantastical element to them. So I am very critical of them, and the only ones I collect on disc are either fun (Tremors), scary (the Grudge), or both (An American Werewolf in London). I will collect this one.
Ghost stories are done to death. It is very difficult to come out with anything scary that is original. I think Lights Out could have used the guided hand of a third-party master horror writer, mostly revising the back-story revelations and using the character relationships to build suspense and mystery surrounding what is going on. Then, perhaps working up to a punch line at the end so that suddenly the back- story rushes in on the audience in one moment, with one simple revelation. It is very difficult to think of how that can be done, but other movies have done it, and the payoff is huge.
I think Lights Out tried to do that a little but got confusing in the attempt.
But all-in-all it's a nice little scary movie with a smaller production value but a satisfying ghost.
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