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quinta-feira, 18 de agosto de 2016

Filament-obsessed chiller Lights Out is tacky, boring and whoppingly tasteless - review



Dir: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Teresa Palmer, Mario Bello, Billy Burke, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Emily Alyn Lind, Gabriel Bateman
15 cert, 81 min
Lights Out
Anyone who braves the filament-obsessed chiller Lights Out may conclude quite early on that it might have made a nifty short. And they’d be onto something: it already is one. In 2013, Swedish writer-director David F Sandberg made a three-minute film of the same name, in which a loping female apparition, visible only in near-complete darkness, crept up on a woman in her home. When the lights were switched on, this spectre vanished – but she also had crafty and genuinely frightening ways of regaining the upper hand.
This neat little calling card caught the attention of horror impresario James Wan (The Conjuring), who helped secure studio backing for its feature-length spin-off. A pre-title sequence featuring Twilight dad Billy Burke cleaves closely to the short’s original format, shifted to an after-hours textile factory, and even co-stars the short’s lead actress, Lotta Losten (who happens to be Sandberg’s wife). Deploying pools of light and dark like squares in a deadly game of checkers, it’s easily the best part of the movie, almost helplessly showcasing the now-you-see-me, now-you-don’t conceit in its ideal, bite-sized form once again.
From here on, we get many, many reiterations of the exact same game, with the skulking ghostess – all silhouetted talons and hair extensions – coming after Burke’s wife (Maria Bello), stepdaughter (Teresa Palmer) and young son (Gabriel Bateman) in two different Los Angeles locations. Her malign agenda has to be explained, which is always the most boring box horror features resign themselves to ticking, and there’s a backstory involving a mental asylum that immediately charges right up to the top end of the tacky-o-meter.
If you choose to regard the whole film as an elaborate metaphor for depression or dementia – any state of psychological attack that lunges for its victims in the dark – it undoes itself with a whoppingly regressive and tasteless ending, essentially letting the disturbed do the sane a favour with a gun to the head. But taking it even this seriously is a pretty tall order, with a script so devoted to the twin tasks of hambone exposition and serving up Sandberg’s gimmicky gotcha scares every few minutes.
The sheer number of novel light sources he throws in for nick-of-time salvation gets guffaw-inducing towards the end. Plus, his handling of actors isn’t yet good enough: Palmer is all tough front with no charm, Bello too frequently gets forgotten about, and the kid’s annoying even by annoying-children-in-horror standards. Lights Out is a decent conceit stretched till it snaps, tied back together with feeble wisps of story, and re-stretched so dimly and often you’ll mainly be craving the illumination on your watch dial.

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