When thinking of creepy entities that have entered into horror folklore in recent years our minds leap towards Jennifer Kent’s lurking Ba-Ba Dook-Dook-Dook!, or cinema’s most famous goat, Black Phillip from The Witch. David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out – originally a 2013 short film of the same name – introduces us to another mysterious being: Diana.
Starring Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies) and Maria Bello (A History of Violence), Hollywood’s latest chiller heads back to the terrorised family setting, as stay-away daughter Rebecca (Palmer) is forced to confront her childhood demons when something lurking in the dark has attached itself to her mentally-unstable mother, Sophie (Bello).
With the help of her little bro, Martin (Gabriel Bateman) – who is now facing the same problems she faced when she was a young gun living at home with her folks – and her kind-of-BF Bret (Alexander DiPersia), she goes in search of answers as to why this strange being is so chummy with her mummy.
Considering that most modern day horror fodder can never escape the clutches of the genre’s much worn clichés (bump in the nights, and so forth), Sandberg has used one of horrors most sought after questions – what lies in the dark? – to his advantage. It won’t score many points for originality, but Lights Out is permanently tense, without being thoroughly terrifying; and although the family set-up is a tried-and-tested formula, it’s interesting-ish backstory adds a workable edge to proceedings.
Sandberg’s enjoyable feature may not carry the same legs as some of this decade’s most memorable horror flicks – nor will Diana garner the same popularity as those characters previously mentioned – but in his darkness-loving antagonist the filmmaker has a strong, and ultimately satisfying, concept that’ll remind us all that the dark can be as scary as hell.