Lights Out parents guide

Lights Out Parent Review

Lights Out concisely tells it story without too many graphic details, which parents of older teens may appreciate.

Overall B-

The nightmares of childhood come back to haunt a young woman (Teresa Palmer) when she discovers the demons of her past are still venturing out when it's dark and scaring a younger generation (Gabriel Bateman).

Violence C-
Sexual Content B-
Profanity C+
Substance Use B+

Lights Out is rated PG-13 for terror throughout, violence including disturbing images, some thematic material and brief drug content.

Movie Review

How comfortable are you in the dark? Martin (Gabriel Bateman) doesn’t feel at all at ease when the lights go dim. The young boy hasn’t slept for days and while his dad (Billy Burke) is working late at the warehouse, the child is becoming increasingly concerned for his mother Sophie (Maria Bello). She is off her meds and talking to herself again.

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After calling his father to beg his quick return home, a nervous Martin decides to go to his mother’s bedroom. As he approaches, the youngster can hear her speakingto someone—but no one that he can see. Martin becomes visibly anxious as he peers past his mom and notes she is gazing at an open, dark closet. Sophie asks if they are keeping him awake, which startles him more. Martin reluctantly heads back to his room, yet as he turns back to say goodnight, he sees a sinister, shadowy figure creep into the top corner of the door frame. Terrified, he runs as fast as he can to his bedroom and locks himself in. As the panic stricken boy sits in his bed with the covers pulled up to his chin, he sees the doorknob start to rattle and hears a sickening scratching sound from the other side of his wooden door. Is it real? Or just his imagination?

Soon after, Martin’s estranged step-sister, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) is called by school administrators to pick her brother up because he has fallen asleep in class. When no one can reach mom, Rebecca tries to comfort her sibling by telling him that he is just having bad dreams. It used to happen to her before she left home. However, when Martin reveals the reason for his insomnia, the young woman understands what has been plaguing her little brother: Diana—a menacing personage that she too has had experiences with.

This movie employs a lot of the typical tactics for ensuring a nerve wracking experience for the audience. Jump scares, squeaky floors, loud music, screams and the obscure images are just a few example of what viewers should expect. Sophie’s phantasmal friend Diana has long, scraggly hair and blade-like fingers. She often is heard clawing through the gloomy house. Other concerns for families include an implied sexual relationship between an unmarried couple, a brief shot of beer and an unused Hookah Pipe, and infrequent use of moderate language. While the weapon of choice in this movie is simply light, there is still a good deal of violence. A bloodied, dismembered body is portrayed, a Police Officer is shot several times and various characters are slashed or thrown at walls. As well, a gunshot suicide is heard but not seen.

Lights Out concisely tells it story (it is only 81 minutes long) without too many graphic details, which parents of older teens may appreciate. I loved that the screenplay allows horror fans to be scared without all of the unnecessary profanity and nudity that sometimes accompanies this genre. Even though the film tends to follow the expected formula, it keeps the audience truly engaged. A young man named Brett (Alexander DiPersia), who is vying for Rebecca’s affections, delivers some subtle and well-timed comedic relief that enables showgoers to almost “reset” before the plot get tense again. Accomplishing its intent to leave viewers creeped out and on edge, this horror tale may also motivate them to buy a nightlight.

Directed by David F. Sandberg. Starring Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello, Alexander DiPersia. Running time: 81 minutes. Theatrical release July 22, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Lights Out here.

Lights Out Parents Guide

In this movie, Rebecca’s wannabe boyfriend drives a Volvo SUV, which is a popular choice among upper middle class soccer moms. The vehicle seemed out of place, given the fact that Brett looked more like the front-man of an Indie rock band. Why might a movie include a product placement like this SUV even if it doesn’t really match up well with the character?

When a child actor accepts a role in a horror movie, how might the subject matter of the script affect him or her in their real life?