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Gabriel Bateman and Teresa Palmer in Lights Out.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Lights Out
Written by
Eric Heisserer
Directed by
David F. Sandberg
Starring
Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello
Genre
Horror
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2016

Batman likes the dark. Simon & Garfunkel do as well. And Dracula is definitely not a morning person. For most of us, though, darkness is not our old friend.

At first glance, David F. Sandberg's attractive horror flick Lights Out can be seen as simple jump-scare fiesta about a creepy creature who exists only in the dimness, terrorizing a dysfunctional family literally at a flip of a switch. But the darkness can be taken as a metaphor for depression – an infiltrating illness that drags down loved ones.

Maria Bello is subtly unsettling as a mentally ill mother long afflicted with "Diana," a gloom-girl severely averse to the light. There are a few inconsistencies with the scary bits, but the script is rich, and having Teresa Palmer as a badass adult daughter with commitment issues – typically a male role – is refreshing. Best of all, it's tight at 81 minutes, which means a 7 p.m. screening gets you out of the theatre while it's still light out, thank God.

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