The fun part of Halloween is embracing and being caught up in the frightening lore, eerie superstitions, and wild hocus pocus of the holiday. The INTERESTING part of Halloween is if you really begin dissecting some of those paranormal activities we take for granted as innocent fun. Do things actually go bump in the night? Is there something under your bed? Are there powers at work that are actually supernatural? Red Lights is a film that delves into these questions head on.
I had first heard that Red Lights was like watching a serious take on Ghostbusters. And though, the irony of having Sigourney Weaver play the lead in such a film is not lost on me, Red Lights is not really Ghostbusting. Its mythbusting. Deconstructing the paranormal and determining whether strange phenomena and psychic prophets are just a bunch of explainable coincidences and con artists, or if other worldly spirits are truly at play.
I first heard of director Rodrigo Cortes after I watched and swooned over his previous film Buried with Ryan Reynolds. I marveled at how much tension he filled into a two hour film with only one actor, a cell phone and a dark casket. One could only imagine what he could do with multiple locations, multiple great actors, and a budget. Red Lights, though dealing with very INTERESTING subject matter, ultimately comes off as only a great tv pilot. Cortes had an opportunity to do some really creative things visually with this film, but he unfortunately plays it really safe. Something, I think, that causes Red Lights to fade into the background of films of this genre instead of shining brightly.
I was surprised by the quality of the cast in Red Lights. De Niro’s mug is the only one on the poster, so I was not expecting Sigourney to be the lead. I also wasn’t expecting the very talented Cillian Murphy to carry a lot of this film. Even Toby Jones sticks his head in at at times. They all do a really good job, especially Murphy. A lot of attention and build up is given to De Niro in this, but you’ll be more captivated by Murphy. He rarely gets to play a part that isn’t…well…Scarecrow. But there is something about his commitment and intensity in all the parts he plays that makes it hard to keep your eyes off him.
Red Lights squanders its potential by not entirely pushing the envelope as far as it could. However, it still is a film that is worth a watch entirely on the concept alone. Don’t be a skeptic….watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.