I've been looking forward to seeing the feature version of Lights Out ever since I saw the short film. What's that, you say? If you've not seen the short film, stop reading this for a moment, and watch it. Please. Here's the link:
Now that you've seen it, you know the frightening premise: a menacing figure appears in the shadows, but disappears in the light. So long as you keep the lights on, the creature stays at bay. But, when it comes near, its presence alone cause lights to kind of, you know, short out? That crackling noise you hear when a bulb is about to blow? Well, that's the kind of shizz that goes on once you've seen this creature, or better yet, when the creature spots you.
So, I was beyond myself when I heard James Wan (Conjuring, Insidious) optioned to produce this film. That would be a dream come true, to have one of our short films at iByte Films do well enough to catch the attention of someone like Wan. How they would create the mythology behind this creature to get enough material for a feature film is one question I've been anticipating to have answered.
So, let's get on with the review. I've refrained from reading what others have said about this prior to watching it, although I did notice that the reviews were mixed. My bet is most people who saw the short film probably came away disappointed. The success of the short spawned almost a cult-like status. When it comes to a feature, more explanations are needed, or at least, expected, and here we have both an explanation of the creature's origin, and we see some resolution on how to defeat it.
Once, as a writer, you start to explain a little of what's behind the curtain, you're going to start losing interest. Some will like it, some won't. That's just the nature of the beast with short films turning into features.
As for me, I have to say I loved it. The story was simple enough, although I feel they could have cut back some of the obvious dialogue, and allow more visuals to tell the story. That alone is a tough call, and oftentimes more inexperienced writers will opt to take the verbal route. But, the mythology the writer/director David Sandberg created really did it for me. I'll not spoil it, but I definitely think this is worth watching if you get the chance. And, seriously, you didn't watch the short film yet? Go back up there and click that link!
I can't wrap the review without a big nod to the cinematography AND the editing. The lighting, color grading, framing of the shots, and the movements were all fantastic, and really kept true to the gutsy feel of the short film. I was often on the edge of my seat, literally.
My overall score? 6 bits out of 8. It could have been a little smarter, but the simplicity and the visuals are so good, I plan to watch again.