By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-

James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) is the producer for the eighty – one minute feature film, Lights Out, based on a short film created by David F. Sandberg three years ago. I was not in on the hoopla for the short film, nor was I expecting to be entertained by the story line of having the lights go out and a female figure appear in the darkness, repeatedly. Surprisingly, what I did find was an appealing screenplay by Eric Heisserer, despite the fact that there are some very predictable scenes that may be pardoned for the overall film experience. The story evolves about Sophie (Maria Bello), a mother of two who was treated for mental illness as a child, yet has had two marriages and a child from each relationship.

The illness is recurring and she is trying to deal with the loss of both husbands. At the beginning of the film, the viewer is introduced to an entity who is the culprit in the death of current husband, Paul (Billy Burke), and father to grade-school son Martin (Gabriel Bateman). It is not until a point in the story that I begin to feel the child is extremely scared and in danger that a sense of horror and terror set in. I am convinced the team of writer/director Sandberg and writer/producer Heisserer (The Thing, A Nightmare on Elm Street) has created a film that will draw in new fans with the story and performances. If the non – fans of horror films give in and take a chance to view this film, they will find within the story some very serious issues about mental health including, depression, grief, trauma, among others.

Teresa Palmer’s portrayal of Sophie’s daughter and young Bateman are impressive. I enjoyed Alexander DiPersia’s performance of his character, Rebecca’s boyfriend, Bret. The young romance will appeal to some, as well as the humor elicited from his performance in scenes during his first sleep over in the family home.

After Paul’s death in the factory where he worked, Sophie (Bello) has been talking to an imaginary friend, Diana (Alicia Vela-Bailey), even more than before and this keeps Martin (Bateman) on edge. Drawing attention at school, his step – sister, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), is asked to help in Sophie’s absence and it is then she discovers that what she ran away from in the home years earlier is now back and more relentless.

The PG-13 rated film was featured at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June and will be released in theaters nationwide on July 22nd

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

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