Red Lights Blu-ray l DVD
DIRECTOR: Rodrigo Cortes
WRITER: Rodrigo Cortes
STARRING: Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Olsen, Robert De Niro, Toby Jones
RELEASE DATE: October 2, 2012
As a fan of director Rodrigo Cortes‘s last film, Buried, which used some extremely crafty filmmaking techniques that allowed it to take place entirely inside of a coffin with Ryan Reynolds, I was very much intrigued by his next movie, Red Lights.
The movie is a psychological thriller in the truest sense, following Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy)—a pair of paranormal researchers who have become quite masterful in revealing the scam that is mind readers and clairvoyants and mediums and the like using “red lights,” the subtle tricks used to sell their so called abilities.
When Buckley wants to go after the renowned psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), who comes out of retirement after 30 years away, it turns out that Matheson has a past with him, and warns Buckley to stay away from the man. But instead of heeding her warning, he determinedly and perhaps a bit stubbornly teams up with one of Matheson’s curious students, Sally (Elizabeth Olsen), to go after Silver and (at least try) and figure out how he does what he does so convincingly.
Red Lights reminded me of another film I reviewed recently, The Awakening. That movie was set in 1920s England, but both tell stories with the debunking of paranormal hoaxes as a centerpiece. Even though it started strong, the movie drifted off course as it moved forward, eventually embracing the many boring ghost story cliches it originally looked to be avoiding. Because of the similarities in premise, I couldn’t help but fear the same thing would happen here.
As it turns out, Red Lights held tight with white knuckles for as long as possible, but, unfortunately, it too was unable to effectively go anywhere with it, forcing Cortes to resort to old used up tricks that did damage to the overall product. The director clearly has a lot of talent and I expect to see some big things from him in the future, but a wrong turn was taken with this particular film.
The movie, for the majority, had my attention and was doing a decent job entertaining. It had a good psychological thriller vibe going, a decent premise and performances, and enough intrigue to keep me wondering how it would all wrap up. But that’s where they lost me. Instead of sticking to what the movie had been running with for the first 90 minutes or so, it instead decided to throw the infamous twist ending at us. And we know how that almost always turns out these days. Every paranormal thriller wants to be The Sixth Sense. Unless you have a downright brilliant idea for a twist ending, please…just don’t. You’ll only do harm to yourself and your art.
If you can stomach the mediocre ending, the rest of the movie might be worth seeing—there was plenty I enjoyed about it. But, of course, the most important ingredient to a good movie is a good ending. Without it, you have nothing. And Red Lights simply did not deliver a satisfying enough finale to warrant more than one viewing.
There’s a few extra features to check out, but all are pretty basic. There’s one featuring interviews with cast members about the film, and another interview with director Rodrigo Cortes. Then comes the making of and behind the scenes featurettes, which are always amusing to watch.