“Lights Out”: Making Hay Out of Fear of the Dark

I just watched “Lights Out,” now streaming on Hulu. I’ve watched the 2016 horror movie before, but it still managed to scare me the second time around.

There isn’t a lot of depth to the story, and the concept is pretty simple: a family is terrorized by a ghostly shadow entity named Diana who can only appear in the dark. Nonetheless, I found the movie effective, probably because I, like a lot of other people, don’t like the dark. After I saw it, I actually was nervous about turning off the lights to go to bed.

What I consider a good horror movie isn’t based only on the number of jump scares, or how often I screamed or covered my eyes. Another factor I take into account is how long the movie lingered in my mind.

Photo: Pezibear at Pixabay.com

Take, for example, “The Sixth Sense,” the 1999 movie about the boy who saw dead people. After watching it, I had a hard time going to the kitchen at night to get a snack. I don’t like looking under the bed, even in daylight. The movie probably scared me from ever moving to Philadelphia. Too many dead people!

Another example is “The Others,” the 2001 haunted-house movie starring Nicole Kidman. It gave me nightmares.

As for “Lights Out,” I actually preferred director David Sandberg’s 2013 short film on which the feature-length movie is based. In the short (which lasts only about 3 minutes), a woman sees a shadow in the hallway outside her bedroom when she turns the lights off. Trust me, the short is scary as heck and it truly deserved to go viral. Check it out. 

Sandberg, who is Swedish, was approached by American filmmakers to do the feature-length movie after his short gained exposure. 

And he did pretty well with the full-length film. It took about $4.9 million to make, and its cumulative worldwide gross was a little under $149 million, according to the Internet Movie Database. Sometimes a good idea just bears repeating.

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