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Red Lights (AF)


Stars: Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Toby Jones, Joely Richardson, Elizabeth Olsen, Craig Roberts, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Adriane Lenox

Director: Rodrigo Cortes

At the start, sceptical supernatural investigator Murphy says to his colleague Weaver “You should get some sleep”. His advice would be wasted on cinemagoers who would find it near impossible to sleep though the noise of De Niro’s relentless scenery chewing.

Once upon a time (some while ago, to be exact) a new Robert De Niro film was an event. Sadly that no longer appears to be the case if some of his last few films are to be taken as exemplars. His time with the ‘Fockers’ depressingly demonstrated comedy was hardly his forte, ‘Righteous Kill’ was embarrassing and it’s difficult to understand why he would agree to appear in ‘Killer Elite’ (or, for that matter, why anyone would want to pay to see it).

All of which leads up to his risible hamming (reminiscent of the late Donald Wolfit, for whom scenery was his vital diet rather than something to appear in front of) as a blind fake psychic in writer-director-editor Cortes’ thriller.

True, when his character us on-stage (as opposed to on-screen) De Niro is a tad
justified in going at the character like a starving wolf offered a ripe fatty ham. Result - ripe ham acting. Unfortunately, De Niro is also just as hammy when he is playing his off-stage character. With another actor, the result might just be considered risible. In view of De Niro’s reputation, it’s simply sad.

The storyline, such as it is, has Murphy and Weaver out to expose De Niro. Weaver (“I don’t do hocus pocus”) leaves the film early, leaving Murphy to pursue his quarry and leading up to a melodramatic face-to-face confrontation in front of the audience for De Niro’s show. Cortes does a competent-enough job of racking up suspense and I liked his final twist which at least compensated for much of the film-filler that preceded it. While certainly far below the high standard Cortes set for himself with his chilling 2012 shocker ‘Buried’, ‘Red Lights’ almost survives De Niro’s presence to emerge as an OK if unmemorable paranormal chiller.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour by deluxe.
113 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 16 Jun 2012