In the underlit attic, an unsuspecting woman tidies up an already cluttered space; however, in the mysterious dimness, her eye catches a motion. Is this a trick of the mind, or is there something sinister hiding in the thick shadows?
On a common night like any other, a solitary woman suddenly hears a muffled but nonetheless alarming sound coming from a plain wooden family chest. Will she confront face-to-face whatever hides inside?
Suddenly, a lonely young woman senses that something is not quite right with her eyesight. What could possibly be altering the boundaries of human perception, telling her eyes to see things that simply do not exist?
A sudden power outage traps an unsuspecting young woman within the restrained space of an empty straight corridor, where an abstract but malevolent entity is in total control. Can the powerless woman run towards the escape door?
It is only a few minutes before one in the morning and the rude and repetitive noise of an incoming call ruptures the stillness of the night. Who could that be at this hour? And why is the husband as stiff as a corpse?
When you are all alone in a small dark room without a single beam of light to pierce through the palpable blackness, what do you fear the most? Is it the temporary blindness that sends shivers down your spine or does a more crippling and maddening fear possess you, stemming from an uneasy deep feeling that someone, or rather something, is observing your every move? But no, it surely can't be the latter; after all, monsters don't exist.Written by
A very effective short film, "Lights Out" may make you dig your old night-light out of the closet...
Just a few short months ago, a fairly tense and exciting low-budget feature was released in theaters. "Lights Out" became a massive hit with its high-concept of a vengeful spirit that exists within shadows and darkness... audiences were hooked by its clever scares, solid visuals and competent atmosphere building. So much so in fact that a sequel is already well on the way, and its up-and-coming director David F. Sandberg has been tapped to helm the anticipated in-the-works sequel "Annabelle 2."
But lets take a look back just a few short years to the humble beginnings of this project. Back to 2013, when Sandberg unleashed a short-film of the same name onto the masses. A short film that of course went on to become the basis of this bonafide new hit.
"Lights Out" (2013) is at its core a very simplistic and elegant style experiment in fear. Lacking any complex narrative or proper character development, it instead uses its short running length and lack of dialog to build a highly effective and chilling sequence of terror through only expert use of lighting, suggestive camera angles and moody visuals. We follow a young woman (Lotta Losten, actress and wife of director Sandberg) preparing to retire to bed for the night, when she notices a mysterious silhouette in the distance whenever she turns off her hallway light... A figure that is seemingly staring right at her, waiting to strike. As tensions build, and the woman's fear grows, we swiftly move towards a startling and wickedly eerie climax...
A prime example of how to appropriately build an increasing and all- encompassing sense of dread, the short is amongst the strongest I've seen in recent memory. It's very deliberate and cleverly uses its time wisely, neither stringing out the short longer than it needs to be or needlessly abbreviating it. It knows just how long to take to allow the fear to grow to a boiling point and when to nail us with the scares and jumps. This is especially admirable in today's modern world of horror, where jumps without establishment and loud noises without atmosphere are taking over at a very alarming rate. It's refreshing to see a new filmmaker who knows to take just enough time before he strikes.
The short is not without a collection of flaws however, mild though they may be in the grand scheme of things. I did find that it lacks rewatchability due to its very short running time that is built around a singular sequence. Once you've seen it, you've wised up to the game, and thus it will never have that same impact on subsequent viewings. I also did find the climactic moments (which I will not spoil) to be a tad underwhelming. It was not quite enough of a payoff, ending with more of a whimper than a scream. Still, these are only minor flaws in an otherwise incredibly strong and stylish short. It's filled to burst with atmospheric tension and heart- stopping suspense, and there's a good chance that after watching it alone in the dark, you'll go digging through the closet or the attic, desperately searching for that old night light from when you were a child that you haven't used in years...
I give "Lights Out" (2013) a very good 8 out of 10. It's available free-to-view online, and it comes highly recommended from this fan of horror and suspense!
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