Complete A-Z list

Lights Out


Stars: Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Billy Burke

Director: David F Sandberg

Heroically silly, often unintentionally (very) funny, but undeniably entertaining, this is virtually a compendium of every haunted house movie you ever saw.

All doors creak, all handles rattle, lights never work and people are left alone (in the dark) at every conceivable opportunity.

The film is full of people advancing on dark places, where of course the demon ghost lurks, making those scrapy noises that demons do while they extend their Flo-Jo fingernails.

Story? Ah yes, well, it seems that mom Sophie (Bello) had a breakdown when she was 11 and was taken to a psychiatric institution, where she encountered the very strange Diana (Ava Cantrell, later Alicia Vela-Bailey), who had a peculiar skin disease and looked like the ghost that crawled out of a well in those Japanese horror films.

Diana died after experimental treatment, but has returned to Sophie's house in black demonic form, engaging Sophie in whispered conversations, but terrifying her 11-year-old son Martin (Bateman), who flees to the apartment of his sister Rebecca (Palmer), even as their stepfather (Burke) is dispatched by the red-eyed Diana for trying to keep mom on her medication.

Staying the night in mom's house with Martin and her boyfriend Brett (DiPersia), Rebecca faces a night of terror (although she should have stayed in bed), as Diana soon snuffs out all the lights that she hates.

This may be rubbish, but its tone is consistent, the performances good all round, and it does keep you watching as the characters resort to all kinds of light source to keep Diana at bay. Best laugh-out-loud moment comes when the hapless Brett is sent flying through the air, but flicks his car key as he crashes to the ground, turning on the headlights. Brilliant!

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by Fotokem.
82 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 15 Aug 2016