Be afraid of the thing that goes bump in the night.  This is the pretty simple concept behind Lights Out, a pretty mediocre and very routine horror movie.

This movie opens with Paul (Billy Burke) working in a factory late at night, when he's attacked and killed by a figure who only appears in the dark.

We then jump past the opening credits to get further into the story.  Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is a kid who's been falling asleep a lot in school.  His mother Sophie (Maria Bello) -- who's Paul's widow -- has been having mental problems and may have stopped taking her medication.  She also talks to someone named Diana when no one else is in the house.  And Martin's been seeing a shadowy figure in the dark parts of the house.
Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) is a young woman who's estranged from her mother (Sophie) and is Martin's half-sister.  Rebecca is dealing with her commitment-focused boyfriend Bret (Alexander DiPersia) but gets involved with helping Martin.  Rebecca starts investigating her mother's relationship with Diana, and what Martin describes sounds a lot like what Rebecca experienced as a young girl.  And pretty soon that shadowy figure starts popping up in almost every shadow and closet in the movie.
Lights Out is almost absolutely routine.  The characters (none of whom stand out) hear mysterious noises and see doors slamming shut.  Once they figure out that Diana can't stand the light there's a scramble to provide continual illumination -- but that's doesn't create tension.  Most of the movie is the creature popping out of the dark or appearing when the lights inevitably flicker and go out, and while the monster is obscured by the dark it's sudden appearances and charging at characters gets repetitive quickly.  For a movie mostly revolving around darkness, Lights Out gives the horror fan what they've seen many times before.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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