Friday, June 12, 2015

Red Lights (2012)

You know me, I love supernatural thrillers. I get drawn into the concepts and think there are some really good stories that can be told in that genre. So I’m a bit of a sucker for them. And when you get a cast that includes Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro… well I tend to ignore the one star ratings on Netflix. I figure, there has to be something good in the film to attract those kinds of actors, right?

Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) has dedicated her life to studying the supernatural. Well, let me rephrase that, she has dedicated her life to proving all supernatural events as natural events misinterpreted or outright hoaxes. Helping her in her regular forays into “ghost busting” is Tom Buckley (Cilian Murphy) a student at the university that Margaret teaches at. The two are enjoying themselves quite a bit and even torment fellow professor Paul Shackleton (Toby Jones) who is attempting to prove the existence of supernatural events.

Then, the ultimate test arrives, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a man who was very famous back in the 70s for using ESP and other amazing mental powers to wow large audiences. After an event where a cynic confronted him and was killed mysteriously, Silver disappeared from public view. Well he is back with a vengeance, and Tom sees this as the perfect opportunity to put the paranormal on trial very publicly. But Margaret refuses, and Tom becomes more and more obsessed with going after Simon himself. Is Margaret hiding a secret? Is Simon more dangerous than anyone can guess? And what is driving Tom’s obsession. Check out Red Lights to find the answers.

Good Points:
  • The basic plot and characters are interesting and set up well
  • The cast does a fine job in the roles
  • Some wonderfully dark and atmospheric scenes

Bad Points:
  • Some horribly over the top and badly edited scenes
  • Starts to spin its wheels about half way through
  • The final “twist” at the end just doesn’t make the impact it should

This is one frustrating film. I can see a really good movie struggling to get out, but the final result is something that seems messy, unfocused and in the end not thrilling or creepy at all. When you look at the whole thing on paper, it probably reads fine, but the execution is what hurts the movie. With strange editing choices, some bombastic sequences that pull you out of the film and a twist that just feels contrived and empty, the end result is a movie I can’t recommend.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 4
Acting: 4
Script: 2
Music: 2
Direction: 2
Entertainment: 2
Total:  2

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I hate it when that happens--a good idea for a movie, but bad execution. I guess it happens though even with a good cast. I don't know if you do NF by streaming or the physical disc (I do the actual disc as you get a bit better selection, I think). But there's a web site that's called that is a pretty good site that let's you know the newest things NF is offering to stream, and also has some pretty decent recommendations as well.

    1. In a case like this, I'm guessing the cast probably didn't think it was going to turn out this way. The majority of the issues revolved around the editing and music. Most of the acting is fine, just a few places that went over the top. But I'm thinking most of the issues came out of post production.

      We use the streaming only service. But that website is a good idea, I'll check it out.

  2. For some reason near misses are more irksome than distant ones. When you bet on 17 in roulette, it is much more frustrating if the ball drops into 5 or 32 (the neighboring slots to 17 on Vegas-style wheels) than if it settles into any other slot. This is so true of movies as well that if you google something like "bad movies that should have been good," pages of links will turn up. Thanks for the warning on this one.

    1. Yeah, that is what is so frustrating about this film is that the potential for a really entertaining film was there. And you can see some really great moments in it. But the whole thing just never clicks.