Three years ago, director David F. Sandberg made a great short about a woman home alone at night, noticing a dark figure when she switched the light off. The payoff was both hilarious and scary as shit. So, of course, producer James Wan got a hold of Sandberg and now there’s a full length feature film based on that light-switch premise. Writer Eric Heisserer takes the idea, fleshes it out, and comes up with a pretty good story to go with Sandberg’s strong horror directing abilities. Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) is an angry woman with mommy and commitment issues. Her mom, Sophie (Maria Bello), recently lost her husband and has fallen into a depression where she is talking to herself. Her son, and Sophie’s brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is seeing a strange dark figure when the lights go out. It all leads up to a finale where flashlights are very valuable and potential victims behave like idiots. Sandberg repeats the same jolt scare over and over again, and makes it all work nicely. The film is genuinely scary when it tries to be. The background story is a little flaccid, but Palmer and Bello are good in their roles, and Bateman plays a scared kid with major aplomb. It’s a serviceable horror film that will give genre fans a reasonably good time.
1 GhostbustersI was not expecting anything near the brilliance or originality of the 1984 original from Paul Feig’s reboot/remake/whatever-you-want-to-call-it entry into a movie franchise that has remained dormant since the miserable 1989 sequel Ghostbusters 2. Considering the cast that Feig assembled (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones), I did expect to have a good time. That didn’t happen. I was bored. Super bored. I laughed a total of two and a half times at the new Ghostbusters, not once due to anything the headlining stars did. It’s as if Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat) figured, “Hey, I have these stars and a big budget for special effects. I don’t really need a funny script, do I? These stars can just stand in front of a camera and be funny, right?” Perhaps they can, but not this time out. Ghostbusters is a stale facsimile of the original. If you watched those lousy preview trailers and worried that the franchise was creatively bankrupt, know that the stupid jokes in that trailer (“Ow, that’s gonna leave a mark!”) are about the best the film has to offer. It is utterly void of laughter. The ghosts are dull, fluorescent things bolstered slightly by some decent 3-D effects if you should choose the more expensive viewing route. In one of the only real compliments I can bestow upon the film, the folks putting together some of the 3-D action did a pretty good job. There are moments where stuff seems to come out of the movie frame and suspend in the air in front of you. Those moments won’t make you laugh, but they might wake you up a little. So much talent wasted.