Lights Out (2016)

There’s No You Without Me.

I saw today’s movie in a RedBox and started to remember that the trailer looked like it had some nifty spooky things in how they handled light, and since I had an October Horrorthon to prepare for, it seemed like a good enough reason to give it a shot.  …And that’s pretty much it.  There aren’t always good stories to these things.  Anyway, the movie was Lights Out, written by Eric Heisserer, directed by David F. Sandberg, and starring Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman, Alicia Vela-Bailey, and Alexander DiPersia.

A man is murdered in a warehouse by a creepy shadow lady that looks like Penance from Generation X – let’s just call her Diana (Vela-Bailey).  That man had a wife, Sophie (Bello), who is crazy, a stepdaughter, Rebecca (Palmer), who has left the family, and a son, Martin (Bateman), who is not sleeping well.  When Sophie can’t be reached, Rebecca is contacted by child protective services because Martin keeps falling asleep in class.  When asked, Martin claims that he can’t sleep because his mom keeps him up by talking with her friend Diana.  …OH SNAP!  That’s the name I gave to the evil ghost lady, isn’t it?  That’s strange…

I found myself fairly underwhelmed by this movie, but I wouldn’t say I hated it.  It was just kind of … regular.  The story was a pretty basic haunting thing with a few twists to separate it from the pack a little, but that’s not really what sets it apart.  They even put it in the title!  It’s all the lights on and off stuff.  That stuff was fun, but also was occasionally problematic.  A ghost thing that can only be seen when it’s almost pitch black means that we will barely be able to see her most of the time.  At least until they bust out the giant, check-your-hotel-room-for-semen style black light that this family has in their basement for some odd reason.  Then you’ll see her and she just looks like a zombie or a lady with a skin condition.  But the stuff they did with the darkness and the rules they set was fairly interesting, it just wasn’t that spooky, even if you ignore the fact that it shouldn’t be nearly that hard to keep yourself in the light.  Go buy a battery or fire powered lantern, for crying out loud!  But what they did go for with scares was used mostly for jump scares which can be fun, but probably won’t make your movie a classic if you can’t build enough tension and spookiness.  Plus, only 3 people died in this movie!  Super powered zombie ghost shadow lady should’ve tried a little bit harder.

There were at least some good performances in this movie.  Teresa Palmer’s character was a bitch to people randomly and seemingly without reason in the beginning, but came around to a very likeable character when she started trying to look out for the welfare of her half-brother.  She seemed to make fairly good decisions for the most part, but I cannot fathom how this girl would be in a haunted house with a shadow ghost that likes to jump out of the darkness at people and yet Rebecca still thought it would ever be a good idea to walk backwards into an open doorway.  You should just hold your flashlight and spin around in circles until morning…or until you throw up.  Either way, it seems pretty fun.  I found Gabriel Bateman annoying, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s not just because I hate most kids.  Maria Bello is great though.  She plays really her role very unhinged but also sympathetic at the same time, which made the ending more disappointing.  She couldn’t have found a better way out of this situation than she did? And by “she,” I feel like I actually mean “the writers.”  Boyfriend guy was just kind of there to me and didn’t really make an impact beyond seeming like a big creep for being so determined to move in with Rebecca in the beginning that he wanted to leave some of his stuff there, and when she said no, he tried to stash a sock there.  As if having some article of clothing in a girl’s house means that you’re dating now.  If that were the case, I’d start leaving clothing in girl’s houses instead of leaving with their underwear like I do now.  The only other character that stood out to me was the child protective services lady.  She seemed nice enough, but I found it really dumb that when she was trying to indicate that she didn’t believe Rebecca was fit to raise a child, her examples seemed to be that Rebecca likes Heavy Metal music (or at least posters of them) and marijuana.

I feel like the best thing I can say about Lights Out is that it’s nifty.  The story of the movie is fairly basic with one or two new ideas, but mostly the movie rests on the shoulders of one or two solid performances and some interesting jump scares based around lighting effects.  You could probably get roughly the same effect of this movie by just watching the 7 minute short film of the same name that inspired this movie, but watching the movie isn’t a terrible option either.  Lights Out gets “Mom, we need to talk” out of “We’re living with a dead woman.”

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I Am Number Four (2011)

I Am … Not Interested

The timing of my decision to start doing movie reviews became fairly unfortunate when my friend Cody suggested I review the movie I Am Number Four.  The reason it was so unfortunate is because I had already watched this movie, it was completely lackluster, and now I must do it again to review it.  Well, here goes anyways.  I Am Number Four stars Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant (or Olyphantastic, as Kevin Smith called him), Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer, Callan McAuliffe, and Kevin Durand (who I know from his portrayal of the Blob in the Wolverine movie I don’t like to call an X-Men movie).

At least 6 aliens have come to Earth, their planet having been destroyed by a race known as the Mogadorians, or as I call them the Overactians.  We follow, of course, Number 4, otherwise known to us as John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) and his protector Henri (Timothy Olyphantastic).  Their identities are compromised by 4’s shiny calf scar and a combination of iPhones and the interwebs.  So they have to pick up and move.  Turns out his shiny calf (not a golden idol, I mean a scar on his calf that started glowing) meant that one of the other 6 was killed by the Overactians.  The move to Paradise, Ohio and John enrolls himself in the most cliched, John Hughes-ian school in recent memory.  Here he meets the the bully jock, the quirky artsy girl (Dianna Agron), and the picked on nerdy kid (Callan McAuliffe).  Being the good guy, he befriends the two outcasts.  This pisses off the jock because he used to date artsy girl.  Eventually the Overactians descend upon Paradise and the whole group, plus Number 6 (Teresa Palmer), must overcome the enemy.

Not a lot of this movie works for me.  The writing is totally cliched and obvious.  Like I said, the high school 4 goes to is right out of a John Hughes film.  I’ve been to high school before and I never really saw any of this stuff going down.  I could’ve been considered either a nerd or artsy girl … I mean guy … back in high school, but no one ever knocked my books out of my hands or set up elaborate exploding paint pranks in my locker.  Hell, I didn’t even have a locker!

The acting pretty much tops off at mediocre.  No one really stood out.  One of the weird things I thought about towards the end of the movie involve Number 6.  This chick shows up in the very beginning of the movie at the house Number 4 just evacuated and decides to blow it up to cover their tracks.  They work really hard to make her appear to be a badass here; having her walking out in slow mo, sunglasses on, and the building blowing up behind her.  Then you don’t see this chick again until the last 10 minutes of the movie, where they again try to sell her as a badass by giving her cool powers.  If this chick is supposed to be so cool, why not give her a little screen time?  As I said, the Mogadorians are totally hamming it up as the alien enemies.  And they look weird too.  Their main physical feature that sets them apart is having gills next to their nose, which apparently cause them to speak in a ridiculous way.  On a positive note, the fight scene near the end is decent, the CG is actually pretty good, and they have some nice parkour in the movie.

So, not a lot of this movie made sense to me.  First off, the names of everyone.  How clever is it to just give people numbers?  Was it a placeholder so you could go back and give them names later but you forgot and the deadline on the script ran out?  And how angry would you be if you were Number 2?  The poop jokes would never end.  “Hey, here comes Number Two.” “Oh you guys were looking for me?” “No, I was just saying I haveta take a shit pretty soon.” “…I hate you guys.”  Another weird thing is when Number 4 meets the artsy girl.  She introduces herself and he does as well, introducing himself as John Smith.  She gets all butt-hurt and says something like “Okay, you don’t want to tell me your name.  That’s fine.”  Bitch, you don’t think there may be a few people whose name really IS John Smith?  They’re super common names, that’s why they even use it as a unidentified person’s name.  The biggest thing that bothered me while watching the movie was the relationship between 4 and artsy chick.  Why is he even falling in love?  Aren’t you an alien?!  What kind of horrible abomination are you looking to create?  And do you even know if our reproductive organs match up?

The best thing I can say about this movie is that it is completely lackluster as a movie, but probably would’ve made a pretty decent Saturday morning TV show.  It’s got a lot of Power Rangers to it.  Probably Ben 10 too, but I’ve never seen it.  They have these powers called Legacies and it seems they can make up new ones on the spot.  This is how they show up.  They are all apparently extra agile and strong, 6 has a shield of some sort, 4 makes his hands glow, 4 learns to blast and grab things with his glowing hands, 6 can teleport, and then apparently 4 can blast another Number Ranger with his hands to “power them up”.  The glowing hands create light, heat, and concussive force, but if he decides they can also gently cradle a girl that just fell off a roof.  They can just decide whatever they want to be able to do.  Tell me this format wouldn’t get kids on board on TV every week.

This movie seemed to be after an audience stupider than myself.  Between it’s hip music, pretty people, and parkour, it adds up to a formula to appeal to the dumber masses.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not worth watching either.  Make a TV show out of it, get some kids to watch it, ’cause I won’t for a third time.  And Heaven help you if you make a sequel to this like the end of the movie hinted at.  I will never forgive you.  I give this movie “Red Bull is for pussies” out of 1060.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.