For the past two weeks or so, I’ve seen this video shared numerous times on Facebook and Twitter, so I caved and decided to give it a go.
Lights Out is short, somewhere close to three minutes, and David F. Sandburg was selected for Best Director in the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge. Since my initial viewing, I’ve watched the film about an additional seven or eight times, breaking it down piece by piece and critiquing it for its place in the genre.
But before I get all professional, let me be straight about something: The first time I watched this, I was alone, it was early— still dark outside— and I got about 20 seconds into the film before I shut my computer and ran away.
Yep. Let that sink in for a moment.
I’ve spent the night in the West Virginia State Penitentiary, hung out in the isolation cells of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and took a nap in the visiting room at Hill View Manor… And I, Stephanie Wytovich, finally got scared enough to think that something was going to eat me if I stayed in my bedroom.
I’ll just chalk that up to an overactive imagination.
The film is well done, incorporating all the tropes horror fans look for when they sit down for a viewing: The scary floor/door creaks, the suspenseful theme music and the stupid protagonist that doesn’t make a logical decision and run away when things are obviously bad. Okay, those are clichés– but they are decently done, so I’ll let them slide. What I really like here is Sandburg’s play with light. In horror, there is an unspoken rule that if you stay in the light everything will be okay. The director takes this literally… And what he manages to do is quite brilliant. Even after watching it multiple times, there’s no denying the element of dread he’s building from frame one.
What I wasn’t a fan of: The predictability. Maybe I watch too many horror movies, and God knows I read too much… But it was pretty clear what was going to happen— to an extent— and that made the climax of the film a tad disappointing… Especially when I had a completely different image built up in my head. That’s not to say I think the ending was a flop. In fact, the positioning of the characters and the structural format was great, but as usual, I wanted more– and I’m not necessarily talking blood and gore here. I wanted interaction. More so than just on a psychological standpoint. I liked that Sandburg left things open-ended with an it’s-never-really-over homage to the genre… But call me crazy, it seemed a bit tame.
Now would I recommend this? Hell yeah. After all, this is the one thing that’s succeeded in creeping me out for a very long time.
Does it scare you?