It’s nice seeing a good horror film come along. That’s not to say it’s a genre void of quality, but for me it’s one that has more stinkers than gems. Lights Out doesn’t fall into either of those categories, but with a powerfully quick 80 minute runtime it’s definitely worthy of your investment. What is has is a fast paced, solid narrative base and an interesting ghoulish concept that doesn’t scrounge on characterisation for a cheap scare.
The monster of the piece, a creature that you can only see in the dark, is equal parts interesting and terrifying. This isn’t a ghoul you don’t see until the climactic act either. From the off you get a glimpse of the thing, lurking in the shadows and playing on the minds of the characters as to whether what they just saw was really there or not. They play with that notion of darkness=bad, light=good throughout the film in some frightening and creative ways. The benefit of such a concept however is that even when the film isn’t trying to spook you it succeeds, as you find your gaze drifting in every shot to the darkness of a room corner or door shadow. You always feel the creature could be there even when it’s not.
Aside from that, everything else that contributes to the bumps in the night for Lights Out is the usual horror tropes we’re all used to. None of these are really molded to be used effectively and because of that much of your enjoyment comes from the visual presentation of the creature and how that’s used. The script is solid and performances all around are believable and enticing, impressive considered the limited time for exposition, but that’s because Lights Out doesn’t cut corners. With that 80 minutes Lights Out doesn’t really have space to be a knock out but it doesn’t waste a second of your time. Director David Sanberg has confidence in his visual chops providing the spooks and that allows for the rest of the investment to go on story. Because of that, this scare-fest will help bring back the fear of dark you had hoped you lost.