LIGHTS OUT: TERROR IN THE DARK

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After seeing the movie, my friend kept her lights on all night.

 

That’s how scary it was for her.

 

Unfortunately, the power in my unit was busted, so I can’t do the same.

 

Anyway, I love horror movies.

 

Nothing beats the jump-out-of-your-skin spookiness of the opening scene in a textile warehouse, where a distorted figure materializes, darker than the surrounding dark, in the silence, against an assemblage of battered mannequins,

 

The warehouse assistant switches off the light and thinks she sees something at the far end of the room.  She snaps the light on and it’s gone.  She turns it off and it’s back.  And each time it moves closer.

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Now you see it.  Click.  Now you don’t.

 

Now you see it.  Click.  Now you don’t.

 

Now it’s right in front of you. Reaching out with charred fingers, breathing on your face…

 

“People have been afraid of the dark since the dawn of time,” says director David F. Sandberg. “It’s something I feel in my bones.  So, rather than deny that impulse, we’re saying, ‘You were right to be afraid, because there is something there.’  We took that fear and created a monster out of it.”

 

And they named the monster Diana, a demon with an agenda.

 

“We’re all terrified of the dark,” concurs “Lights Out” producer James Wan. “As kids, we were convinced something was hiding in the closet or under the bed. And that stays with us.  It’s universal.  This movie really plays on that simple concept. That’s the brilliance and the fun of it.”

 

“It’s a holdover from our ancestors long ago, that anything moving in the dark is predatory.  Expanding this idea into a full-length film, the core of it was Diana and what she represents,” screenplay writer Eric Heisserer added.

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When the central character, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), left home to live alone in a downtown apartment, she thought she left her childhood fears behind. She’s a fiercely independent young woman – smart, unsentimental, and hard as nails.

 

But growing up, she was never really sure of what was and wasn’t real when the lights went out.

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But now, her little brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that once threatened her safety and sanity.

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A malevolent entity, who has latched on to their mother, Sophie (Maria Bello), has reemerged and is feeding off their fears.

 

And as Rebecca gets closer to unlocking the secret of the entity who only manifests in the dark and who has already killed two of her mom’s husbands, she, along with the remnants of her family and  boyfriend Bret (Alexander DiPersia), all risk grisly deaths once the lights go out.

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“Lights Out” takes on additional depth and levels of darkness, and offers characters who are not merely victims but, rather, well-drawn individuals audiences can relate to, empathize with and root for.

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Rebecca was estranged from her mom, Sophie, after her father abandoned their family.

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Sophie, a former psychiatric patient who never stopped struggling with schizophrenia, became the hostage of Diana, a dead friend from the asylum of her childhood – essentially, a spiritual parasite, who wants nothing to come between her host and her children.

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After killing Sophie’s second husband, Diana began showing herself to Martin, Rebecca’s 10-year-old half-brother, who suffers sleepless nights as a result.

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When Rebecca gets a call from the Child Services case worker at her brother’s school, concerned that young Martin has been falling asleep in class, she knew what’s been keeping him up at night.

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What she once tried to rationalize as her own bad dreams and imagination, she now realizes must have been real if it’s happening to him.  And if Martin is dealing with the same demonic force that drove her from the house at 16, she can’t let him face that alone.

 

Forced to return to the house she fled from as a child, she finds her mother’s condition has worsened. Sophie, now a virtual recluse in the half-light of her rooms, is the eye of the storm that threatens the lives of her children.

 

But is Sophie in league with the evil Diana, or just her captive?  Does she control Diana or does Diana control Sophie?

 

While she seems to be inflicting this terrible thing on her family, she clearly loves them. While she desperately battles her own demons, she’s powerless against the supernatural component to her condition.

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To complicate matters, the Diana of Rebecca’s childhood has grown stronger, bolder, angrier, more unpredictable.  An alarmingly agile, inky silhouette now grasps at her family from every shadow. No longer content to live in the darkness, Diana wants to drag all of them into the darkness.

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“That’s where she’s powerful so she has to lure them into the dark in any way she can,” the director pointed out. “Get them into the basement, get all the lights out of the house.  She’s bringing them into a place where she has total control.”

 

“It’s petrifying.  Diana is what your nightmares are made of,” Teresa noted. “ She’s the scariest thing you can imagine.  I think we equate fear with a dark energy and she’s as dark as you can possibly get, from the way she looks to the way she interacts with the characters in the film.  She’s a total nightmare.”

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But as much as there is dysfunction and pain here, there is also love – which, in its way, amplifies the peril for all of them.  “Outside the scares, it’s the story of a family whom this entity derailed.”

 

Now, Rebecca sees there may have been more going on than what she thought; something supernatural, purely evil and beyond her control.

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“Who or what Diana is, is largely up to the audience to decide,” Maria stressed. “She’s so shadowy and elusive you don’t know what she’s going to do.  I think audiences will be jumping in their seats, because I certainly was when I read the script.  You never know what it’s going to look like or where it’s going to be.  It grabs you when you least expect it.”

 

“There will definitely be some surprises,” the director promised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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