Wednesday, October 05, 2016

What I Watched in September

I waited to see LIGHTS OUT until it came to the second run theater. Because of its genesis as a short film I feared that stretching the idea to feature length would destroy the film's chances to be very good. I'm pleased to say that my fears were misplaced.

The story revolves around a family that is haunted by a tortured soul from the mother Sophie's past. This ghost can only interact with the physical world in darkness with any light source enough to turn the creature incorporeal. Sophie has suffered from mental illness for years and in recent months has become increasingly worse. At the same time the ghostly activity in the family home have gotten stronger to the point that Sophie's young son has begun to stay awake at night to keep safe. After falling asleep in class the school nurse contacts his older sister Rebecca who moved out of the house just before things escalated. Rebecca believes that her mother's deranged behavior is the real problem in the house and makes the decision to take the boy under her own roof. But Sophie's refusal to allow this legally to go ahead forces the young woman and her boyfriend to research the odd happenings in the home. Soon the reality of the inexplicable attacks in the dark becomes obvious and the danger for them all ramps up as they are stalked through the night by this vengeful spirit.

The smartest choice made in crafting this film was to refuse to extend the narrative past what it could handle. The film clocks in at about 80 minutes and the credits start about five minute before that. This film wastes no time setting up the premise, introducing the characters and getting things rolling. Also, the cast is strong with Maria Bello as the haunted mother and the unexpectedly excellent Teresa Palmer as Rebecca leading a small but good group. Even the young actor playing the son is very good and often that is where a film of this type would fall down.

There is clever storytelling all the way through this solid little movie and it is a joy to see a film that comes in, punches above it's weight and then fades away leaving the audience satisfied that they got a good ride. I'll enjoy showing this one to folks in the near future.


LIGHTS OUT (2016) - 7
THE MAN WITH A CLOAK  (1951) - 7 (well done mystery with a surprise at the end)
DJANGO'S CUT PRICE CORPSES (1971) - 2 (terrible Spaghetti Western)
BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (1992) - 9 (rewatch)
TENNESSEE JOHNSON (1942) - 7 (fictionalized story of the 17th US President)
MISSING IN ACTION 2: THE BEGINNING (1985) - 3 (terrible) 
THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1964) - 7 (rewatch)
HARD TARGET 2 (2016) - 6
STARCRASH (1979) - 7 (rewatch)
WILD, WILD PLANET (1965) - 8 (rewatch)
EARTH VS. THE SPIDER (2001)- 4 (rewatch)
DEADLY MANOR (1990)- 4 (sad slasher from José Larraz)
ALICE SWEET ALICE (1976)- 7 (evil child tale)
THE ZOMBIE DIARIES (2006) - 3 (British found footage fails)
SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986) - 3 (pretty bad slasher)
THE UNHOLY (1988) -3 (glacially paced, dull supernatural horror)
SLAUGHTER (2009) - 4 (overlong thriller)
SECRETS OF A PSYCHOPATH (2015)- 4 (Bert I. Gordon thriller)
GODZILLA VS GIGAN (1972)- 3 (rewatch)
VAULT OF HORROR (1973)- 7 (rewatch)
CELL (2016) - 4 (flat, uninvolving Stephen King adaptation)
TORMENTED (1960) - 6     (rewatch)

1 comment:

Nick Rentz said...

I was amazed at how inept Django's Cut Price Corpses is. You can easily spot a car in one scene. Actually, I watched it on a Sunday night and fell asleep halfway through. The next day I didn't even bother finishing it. Bram Stoker's Dracula and Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, I like them, but I also have slight issues with them. With Dracula I like the directing and sticking to the novel, but some of the acting and costume design sink it a bit. Mummy's Tomb is a somewhat drab until the mummy shows up. I really liked the reveal at the end of Mummy's Tomb, though.