Review: Lights Out, C-
Rated PG-13, 81 minutes
I remember those days as a child sleeping with the lights on because I was afraid of what might lurk in the dark. The contrived, silly new horror flick "Lights Out" tries to capitalize on those fears and more, and while there are a handful of jumps, it has trouble formulating a coherent plot. When Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) left home, she thought that her childhood fears were behind her. As a young girl growing up, she was never really sure of what was real when the lights went out at night. Now, her little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that jeopardized her safety and sanity. Holding a mysterious attachment to their mother Sophie (Maria Bello), the supernatural entity has returned with a vengeance to torment the entire family. Produced by "The Conjuring's" James Wan, written by Eric Heisserer ("The Thing") and directed by David Sandberg and based on his creepily tense short film of the same, "Lights Out" lacks the thrills of that earlier short film, mainly because the plot's expansion is a muddled one that's about as clear as seeing in the dark. This creepy dead woman named Diana is menacing this troubled family, though there's no reasonable explanation why she latched herself onto this family and why she wants everyone dead - except that she's really, really jealous and has an extremely bad case of eczema. The best thing about the uneven, slow moving "Lights Out," aside from a couple of scares (and of which you've seen in its trailers), is that it's only 81 minutes. The worst thing? Well, that's just about everything else, but mainly that it's not scary enough and doesn't dig enough into its psychological undertones, and that it could've been resolved much quicker than 81 minutes - which is probably why it worked better as a short film. I like "Warm Bodies" Palmer, and she's well cast as Bello's daughter, though the talented Bello is underwritten as the troubled mother, who may hold the key to getting rid of dirty Diana, who likes to scratch up the floor and waste a totally good bowl of popcorn. Sure, "Lights Out" is really just a psychological metaphor for life and death, but it'd be nice if it was scarier when the lights were really out.