Lights Out | Supernatural horror thriller taps into a primal fear - and gets us jumping

Lights Out Teresa Palmer
(Image credit: Ron Batzdorff)

Lights Out Teresa Palmer

You were right to be afraid of the dark.

Successfully tapping into the most primal of fears, supernatural horror thriller Lights Out has a very simple but amply effective premise. A malevolent ghost that is only visible – and dangerous - in the dark.

Which means Teresa Palmer’s spunky heroine, Rebecca, needs some reliable light sources to hand if she is to keep her young half-brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) out of harm’s way. So brace yourself for some frantic sequences in which a wind-up torch, candles, a mobile phone and even a tattoo parlour’s neon sign get pressed into service.

Once or twice, the film’s pace slackens for a batch of clumsy exposition, filling us in on the scarily clingy ghost’s back-story as the former childhood friend of Rebecca’s mentally unstable mother, Sophie (Maria Bello). But for the most part, Swedish director David F Sandberg, adapting and expanding his 2013 short film, keeps us jumping as the lights go on and off. And unlike the ghost, at a brisk 80 minutes, his movie doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Certificate 15. Runtime 79 mins. Director David F Sandberg

Lights Out debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Saturday 3 June and is available on Blu-ray & DVD from Warner Home Video.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.