"Fear of the dark, Fear of the dark,
I have a constant fear that something's always near..."
- Iron Maiden
Are you afraid of the dark? If so you are gonna love-hate Lights Out, the latest come-outta-nowhere horror masterpiece opening this week at the Whistler Village 8. Made for just $5 million, this one perfectly capitalizes on perhaps the most basic of all human fears — the terror of those things that go bump in the night.
But first a little backstory, in 2014 Swedish filmmaker David F. Sandberg made a three-minute short film about a woman haunted by an apparition that appears, lurks, and can only exist in the shadows. The film went viral and Sandberg impressed producers Lawrence Grey and contemporary horror kingpin James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) enough that they green-lit a full-length feature.
And along with scriptwriter Eric Heisserer (who wrote Final Destination 5 a.k.a.: the best of all the Final Destinations), Sandberg doesn't disappoint. Lights Out is what horror is supposed to feel like: palm sweating, spine tingling, edge-of-seat fear. Aussie stunner Teresa Palmer (The Grudge 2, the Point Break remake) stars as a young woman who returns home to protect her younger brother from their somewhat deranged mother (Maria Bello) and her imaginary friend.
And that's all you need to know other than the fact that Lights Out clocks in at a lean, mean 81 minutes and is superbly acted by all involved. This one is fun but it never dips fully into campy cheese and the characters ring true enough to evoke empathy even when they're against each other. Which only makes things all the more pants-shittingly freaky when the lights go out. Sandberg is a fine director who doesn't spoon-feed his audience anything and Lights Out is the best horror flick since It Follows, but way scarier. See it in a dark theatre and get ready to lose your shit.
Also opening, Star Trek Beyond might be the best Trek reboot yet at mixing the wry humour and fun of the original TV series with the necessary action/explosion/darkness required for contemporary blockbusterism.
Justin Lin (of Fast and Furious fame) steps in as director (now that J.J. Abrams has jumped universes over to the Star Wars franchise) and pulls off the strongest Star Trek story since The Next Generation crew had to go rescue Spock from another round of botched Romulan negotiations.
In all seriousness, Beyond is really quite good and a lot of that hinges on scriptwriters Simon Pegg and Doug Jung inserting more humour to the dialogue, some Beastie Boys into the soundtrack, and a semi-brilliant move to keep things fresh: Kirk and the crew abandon the Enterprise. Forcing the classic characters to take their workplace dynamics down to a foreign planet to rescue Uhura (Zoe Saldana) from a creepy alien played by the always incredible Idris Elba. It gives everyone enough space to let the characters breathe. There's also a new kick-ass character, the aforementioned Beastie Boys song (they kinda save the day!), and some pretty exciting action to boot. Good work Justin Lin and rest-in-peace Anton Yelchin.
For the kids (and for the umpteenth time) Ice Age: Collision Course crams contemporary gags into a prehistoric world full of talking animals that we all wish would just roll over and go extinct. After 15 years, four feature films, four short films, and two TV specials it's safe to say there is nothing new to be found here. This one ought to be almost as much fun as oral herpes at a lemonade stand.
But the Download of the Week is a doozy. 10 Cloverfield Lane could also be considered the best horror movie since It Follows, except it's not a horror movie. Except it kinda is, as well as a being a psychological science-fiction thriller. Basically, it's a mindf*ck, in the best way possible.
Produced by Abrams (that guy is everywhere), this one stars chameleon actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Final Destination 3) as a young woman who gets in a car accident and wakes up in an underground bunker with a doomsday fanatic (John Goodman) explaining that there's been "an attack" and everyone above ground is dead. But are they? 10 Cloverfield Lane is not a sequel to Abrams' original found-footage Cloverfield flick but it certainly opens the doors to expand that universe.
And I really hope they do; this is the best thing on iTunes this week. Watch it with the lights out.