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film review

Gabriel Bateman and Teresa Palmer in Lights Out.

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.