Lights Out (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 26-Oct-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror / Thriller Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 80:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David F. Sandberg
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Teresa Palmer
Gabriel Bateman
Alexander DiPersia
Billy Burke
Maria Bello
Alicia Vela-Bailey
Andi Osho
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Benjamin Wallfisch


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Hindi Dolby Digital 5.1
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Chinese
Chinese
Cantonese
Korean
Arabic
Czech
Greek
Hebrew
Hungarian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Russian
Thai
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Another low-budget fright film from Australian producer James Wan, 2016ís Lights Out is one of the superior horror offerings of the year, and thatís not simply by default. This feature debut for filmmaker David F. Sandberg is a slick, taut, well-made thriller featuring likeable characters who donít act like complete idiots, and it doesnít insult audience intelligence, which is a minor miracle. Whereas Wanís recent The Conjuring 2 clocked in at over two hours, Lights Out runs a refreshingly lean 75 minutes, with very little in the way of narrative flab. Itís a taut succession of genuinely frightening set-pieces bolstered by strong performances and focused direction, and the dramatics of the story are more effective than expected. For a minor $5 million production, it does its job extraordinarily well.

††† A twentysomething woman with severe intimacy issues, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) has distanced herself from troubled mother Sophie (Maria Bello), who has long battled mental illness. Off her meds, Sophie gets worse after the mysterious death of her second husband Paul (Billy Burke), staying up all night and communicating with a malevolent entity she calls Diana (Alicia Vela-Bailey), who can only materialise in darkness. Rebeccaís brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) develops insomnia due to his fear of Diana and starts falling asleep at school, which forces Rebecca to get involved, taking her sibling back to her apartment to protect him. But simply going across town is not enough to deter the sharp-clawed wraith, and Rebecca becomes determined to uncover the mystery surrounding Diana.

††† A feature-length adaptation of Sandbergís 2013 short movie of the same name, Lights Out uses a unique premise which cleverly exploits humankindís innate fear of the darkness. Since Diana cannot attack whenever a functioning light source is available, many of the movieís most nail-biting moments involve characters struggling to turn on any sort of light to save their lives - not just lamps or overhead lights, but smart phones and car headlights are used as well. To Sandbergís credit, he establishes the rules surrounding Diana and strictly adheres to them, finding intense moments in exploring the often shallow border between light and dark. As with any horror film of this ilk, the protagonists set out to uncover the mystery surrounding Diana, but thankfully the reveal of her backstory in no way undermines her effectiveness as a monster. Furthermore, the familial dramatics serve to enhance the story, making this more than just a more run-of-the-mill horror offering.

††† Prior to making his directorial debut here, Sandberg had only helmed shorts, and repeatedly found himself unable to secure funding from the Swedish Film Institute. Yet, his inexperience with features is never evident at any point throughout Lights Out, which is endowed with staggering assurance and authority, especially with the layered, eye-catching cinematography by Marc Spicer (Furious 7). Sandberg may indulge in certain genre clichťs and tropes, but such aspects are sold with genuine vigour to make them work. Take, for instance, Dianaís first appearance in the opening sequence: an office worker turns off the lights for the night, only to see an intimidating figure silhouetted against the dim light of the next room. When the lights are flipped back on, Diana is gone. But with the lights off, the silhouette returns. The worker begins turning the lights on and off, until Diana is suddenly closer. Itís a predictable moment, but on Sandbergís watch, itís terrifying nevertheless.

††† Lights Out doesnít muck around, working through a fast-paced routine of scary scenes intercut with character drama and investigation before spending its third act holed up inside Sophieís home, leading to a consistently riveting extended sequence as the characters find whatever they can to remain in some degree of light as Diana comes after them. More importantly, the tautly-edited climax is a immense fun, with scares and tension aplenty. Donít let the PG-13 rating fool you - Lights Out may not be bloody or gory, but Sandberg manages to frighten using unnerving sounds and images.

††† Performances are strong right down the line, led by Australian actress Palmer, who manages to sell fear and dread without breaking a sweat. Itís a small cast, and thankfully all the actors help to maintain Sandbergís vivid illusion. The only real issue with Lights Out is its abrupt ending, which makes the resolution of the story almost feel too easy. Itís not a deal-breaker, thankfully, and again the movieís tautness is a gift in an age of overcomplicated horrors, but the ending is a tad jarring nevertheless. Lights Out is a real keeper in spite of its shortcomings, signifying the exciting arrival of a new filmmaking talent, though it remains to be seen if it winds up sullied by endless sequels like most horror movies these days.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† No surprises here: Lights Out shines on Blu-ray, with an AVC-encoded 1080p transfer framed at 2.40:1 which faithfully replicates what the movie looked like on the big screen during its theatrical run. Despite the absence of special features on the disc, Roadshow have nevertheless placed the movie on a BD-50, mastering it with an unusually high bitrate to allow for maximum video quality. Short of a 4K Blu-ray release (which likely wonít happen, since it was finished at 2K and likely isnít ďmajorĒ enough to earn such a release), itís difficult to imagine this fright flick looking any better on home video.

††† Lights Out was shot digitally using Arri Alexa cameras by cinematographer Marc Spicer, who created an image rich in shadows and deep blacks. Since Diana can only materialise in darkness, only her dark silhouette is seen most of the time, and parts of the frame during low-light sequences are pitch-black. Roadshowís encode ably handles the tricky source, maintaining fidelity with gorgeously inky blacks whilst never falling victim to unsightly crush. Yes, parts of the image are impenetrably dark, but thatís by design, and thereís some amazing shadow separation. Other moments also fare well, including scenes lit under a UV lamp, and itís worth noting that there is very little in the way of noise. There is a light layer of noise, but itís never blocky or distracting, and most folks won't even notice it. Itís actually quite miraculous that such dark sequences look so clean and richly detailed.

††† Digital movies (especially on small budgets) tend to look rather flat, but the superlative lighting design throughout Lights Out creates a marvellous sense of depth. Furthermore, the Blu-ray retains the striking colour palette I recall seeing at the cinema, with vibrant colours in outdoors sequences, as well as rich skin-tones. Detail absolutely peppers the transfer, which is also razor-sharp, with amazing object delineation. Close-ups reveal every pore, wrinkle and hair on the faces of the actors, and textures are brought out on all clothing no matter the lighting conditions. Details and textures can even be seen in Dianaís silhouette. At times the transfer does lack a bit of refinement, but this is likely due to the source and the limitations of 1080p.

††† I would definitely like to have seen Lights Out receive an UHD Blu-ray release with HDR grading (maybe when the sequel lands), but I cannot complain about the quality of this presentation. Free of encoding anomalies, this is one terrific-looking horror on Blu-ray.

††† A whole heap of subtitle options are available. I had no issues with the English track.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Whereas The Conjuring 2 received the full Dolby Atmos treatment on disc, Lights Out arrives on Blu-ray with a comparatively quaint DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. As per usual, the lack of a 7.1 or an Atmos track may disappoint some folks, but this 5.1 mix nevertheless delivers where it counts in almost every department. Roadshow also offers a variety of lossy 5.1 mixes in other languages for those interested, but the primary lossless track is all that I was interested in.

††† The big thing with Lights Outís audio mix is its use of silence. To build tension, there are almost unbearable stretches of silence, and luckily these moments are not marred by hissing or any other encoding anomalies. Dialogue is consistently well-prioritised and always easy to hear, coming out of the front channels with spot-on clarity. The audio also delivers in terms of creepy sound effects, such as Diana scratching the floor, or loud bangs. There is noticeable surround activity throughout, with Benjamin Wallfischís original score coming through the back channels to terrific effect. Itís a clean, clear audio track which is also given oomph thanks to aggressive subwoofer activity when necessary.

††† Itís doubtful that an audio mix with more channels would offer much in the way of improvement, though others are welcome to disagree of course. For my money, Lights Out sounds sublime on Blu-ray and I have no complaints.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† Disappointingly, extras are in short supply here. For a film like this which killed it at the box office, one would at least expect a commentary and a few behind-the-scenes featurettes, but we arenít that lucky. Perhaps a double dip is on the horizon - expect to see it when Lights Out 2 hits cinemas in a few years.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 13:58)

††† Three scenes are available here, which can only be played altogether. The first two scenes donít add much to the movie and were wisely trimmed, while the third is actually an entirely new coda. I did note that the movie's ending seemed abrupt, and now we know why; it originally featured an additional ten minutes or so at the end, which was simply chopped off after test screenings. Although itís interesting to see this, and it does give the story more closure, it was probably best left out of the final cut, because itís silly and would have made the movie feel more clichť and repetitive. I still wish the movie received a better ending than the one it received, though.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † In terms of supplements, all editions worldwide are identical. Buy local.

Summary

††† Terrifying and enjoyable in equal measure, Lights Out is a solid low-budget horror movie that fans of the genre should adore. I was impressed at the cinema, and I'm happy to own it on disc.

††† Roadshow's presentation of the movie on Blu-ray is close to perfection. The video presentation is one of the strongest I've seen in recent memory, thanks to the pristine digital source and a healthy bitrate. The audio, too, is aggressive and layered. Despite the lack of extras, this disc comes recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Monday, January 16, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSamsung UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED55C6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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