“Lights Out” renewed my fear of the dark

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In the past few years, I have become obsessed with horror films. “Lights Out,” the first movie I’ve seen in theaters in quite some time, was certainly worth every penny.

Pretty clear from the title, “Lights Out” is a movie that bases its story line on the fear of the dark. For most kids, being scared of what lays just beyond eyesight is a reality. While it’s a rather simple (and some might say an unoriginal) way to exploit our fears, it is the first movie I’ve seen do this.

Thankfully, “Lights Out” didn’t fall into the stereotype of other supernatural horror flicks. Diana (Alicia Vela-Bailey), is a paranormal entity controlling a mother named Sophie (Maria Bello). Diana, however, is not possessing her. Instead, she forces Sophie not to take her antidepressants through physical abuse. When Sophie is in a depressive state, Diana is much stronger and can easily influence her decisions.

“Lights Out” also creates a personal connection between Diana and her victims. Unlike most movies where a demon latches onto its host(s) through an experience with a ouija board or some sort of ritual gone wrong, this movie told Diana’s backstory from when she in a psychiatric ward. There, she befriended a much younger Sophie. After a freak accident, Diana died and came back to haunt Sophie and her children, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) and Martin (Gabriel Bateman).

Although the movie bests other recent horror films for those reasons, there was one thing about it that I can’t go without mentioning:  Too often, “Lights Out” built tension for a few seconds and showed a screaming close-up of Diana or a dead corpse with its eyes ripped out. I’m tired of scary movies relying on jump scares to get the audience to scream.

After coming home from work the day I saw this, I found myself standing in my living room too scared to step forward and turn on the lights. “Lights Out” left me fearing the dark again, but I got over myself pretty soon after. This was director David F. Sandberg’s first major directorial role and he certainly nailed it. Hopefully, others can pick up on Sandberg’s success and open the doors to another generation of horror movies.

Rating: 3.5/5