Thursday, October 27, 2016

31 Days of Halloween 2016: Lights Out

2016, David F. Sandberg (lots of shorts) -- download

Wow, they actually gave Sandberg directorial control over the feature of his own fucking scary short. Yes, the original short (found here) is one of those popular jump-scares on the Internet. But the guy does a pretty good job of adapting the mysterious, no real reason required, creepiness into a weird ghost story full length film.

The lights on, nothing there, lights out, figure hunched in the shadows motif is one of those lizard brain horror concepts that I am incredibly surprised took this long to make it to the screen.  Well, as the focus of a movie. It, as it is an extension of the monster just out of the corner of your eye trope, has been around forever in one form or another. But this is the idea distilled. Click click click click. SHRIEK.

The initial idea (click click shriek) is introduced immediately with Moustache Dad (*ahem* an oblique reference to what Riff Tracks called Billy Burke in their dialogue for Twilight) being haunted and killed by said creepy monster. I like that; the movie banks on the probably-already-well-known aspect of its monster and puts it immediately to the forefront. The rest of the movie is why.

Now that screenwriter Eric Heisserer will be all over the Internet, for he also wrote the critically acclaimed (and incredibly challenging) screenplay for Arrival, I am sure we can get some insight as to why he and David chose to throw the monster in our faces right away.

Anywayz, flash forward to his family dealing with Moustache Dad's death. Mom, Maria Bello, was already dealing with trauma -- barely medicated depression and anxiety. Daughter Rebecca (surprisingly skinny Teresa Palmer) left years ago when her dad disappeared, but is now worried even more for her little half-brother who is left alone with Mom and Mom's imaginary, but still dangerous, friend Diana. The monster, Diana, is very protective of Mom and prefers her unmedicated.

The explanation of what Diana is pretty sketchy, but the movie has a fun time revealing just enough. And it doesn't hold back on whom Diana takes out. She's a monster, and does monstrous things even if you just happen to be in her way. Of course, the movie has to lead to her release, her destruction at the hands of a loving family. Sequel? Of course, we all know monsters can never really be killed, just dispelled until the next family comes along to draw up their power.

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