Red Lights (15)
Directed By: Rodrigo Cortes
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones, Joely Richardson, Craig Roberts
Running Time: 113 mins
Paranormal activity is not a new thing when it comes to film, however a movie where somebody is investigating not only the phenomenon but how somebody goes about and fakes it are few and far between. Over the last few years though this kind of film seems to crop up once in a while with the Awakening – released last year – doing it very well. So, can Buried director Rodrigo Cortes bring his signature tension-filled film-making to the paranormal genre and give it the shake up that it really needs? Or is this just another bog standard walk in the park?
The film opens up in the car of two paranormal investigators, Dr Margaret Matheson (Weaver) and her colleague Dr Tom Buckley (Murphy) on their way to a supposedly haunted house; a couple has called them in to find out if there are ghosts in the house and when they both arrive they discover that a medium is already there and guiding the family. However, we soon discover that not all that is going on is real and the medium is a con man. All of this happens before the opening credit’s begin.
After the incident at the house and the discovery that it was fake, Dr Matheson explains to her class of students at the college where she works how to fake paranormal activity by just doing a few simple things like lifting a chair up with your foot or positioning your hands in a certain spot on a table thus enabling you to movie it, obviously 2 students (Olsen and Roberts) in her class take extreme interest in this.
Both doctors are then asked to investigate a psychic who is holding a stage show, during the investigation it is discovered that everything he is doing is fake, with a partner in the next room relaying information to the psychic. When the psychic is arrested it’s discovered that he was once a pupil of a very well know medium (De Niro) who is set for a comeback after an incident that happened to one of his friends 20 years Prior.
After both investigations Dr Buckley thinks that it’s time to investigate Simon Silver (De Niro) again as the first investigation into him didn’t go according to plan. However Matheson doesn’t want this to happen as she and Silver have a secret hidden in their past.
I’m not going to go into any more details for fear of spoilers, but there is a bit of a twist about 45 minutes in that changes the dynamic of the movie, sadly fit’s for the worse.
The film is split up into 2 parts, the first half od the movie follows the two doctors investigating fake psychics and the chemistry between both doctors is believable. However when we hit the halfway mark the movie takes a different turn and becomes more of what the trailer hints at, hindering the film.
Both lead roles in the movie are played very well and with a solid supporting cast including Toby Jones.
The first part of the film is successful but enjoyment starts to wane once De Niro turns up – he is only in the film as a “AND” role, but he plays it like he is the main character which doesn’t work.
The film is not helped either by its boring script, yes each actor tries their best, but Cortes who directed and produced doesn’t know how to balance the script and story which he co-wrote, and this is a shame as he showed real talent with he previous film Buried, which leads me to another problem: there is no tension, yes and if you have seen the trailer you have expectations, and even a subplot where Cillian Murphy’s character becomes in a dark world he can’t control fizzles and dies.
Overall this is not a bad movie, it’s just one that starts off with some promise but fails to deliver for the most part. Oh, and the ending is badly handled and not well structured.
Cortes has proven that he can do tension and that he can handle a small movie, but I don’t think that he can handle script duties and should probably stick with directing/producing. I wouldn’t say avoid this film, but I would say wait for the DVD or Blu-ray. All in all it’s a shame as I had high hopes.