out of Five
Running time: 113
This dark and occasionally chilling thriller starts off well, but eventually lands itself in implausible territory, wasting its stellar cast and creditable performances.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Robert Cortés, Sigourney Weaver stars as Margaret Matheson, a veteran psychologist, who along with her physicist assistant, Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) is a professional sceptic when it comes to the supernatural world, devoting her time to debunking fraudulent claims of paranormal activity.
But when Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a blind and legendary psychic comes out of a mysterious, thirty year retirement, Tom is eager to investigate and find out the truth – much to the annoyance of Margaret, who sternly warns him to stay away. But with his star student and love interest Sally (Elizabeth Olsen) onboard to help, Tom grows both dangerously obsessed and increasingly haunted by Silver, determined to uncover the truth about his powers.
The first half starts promisingly, wasting no time in introducing its stellar cast to what looks like it could be a tightly controlled and deeply chilling atmospheric thriller – a promise supported by its opening scene’s visibly chilly and grey temperatures, which works well as a murky backdrop.
Sigourney Weaver is, as you would expect, the standout in her role as the uniformly and steely reserved psychologist, her ambiguity often hinting to the audience that she might be hiding a deep, dark secret. In terms of the more melodramatic scenes, these are left to Murphy and he doesn’t disappoint, putting on a worthy (if not a little forgettable) performance and Elizabeth Olsen’s effortless spark creates the necessary balance this film craves.
However, despite a hopeful start, Red Lights completely falls apart in the second act, flickering between daft and chaotic, as it unveils implausible revelations and a perplexing back-story involving a comatose son. At nearly two hours, Red Lights also takes far too long in revealing its secrets and the investigation of Silver is so dragged out, it risks losing both the audience’s attention and patience.
There are also some incredibly noticeable continuity errors in a particular fighting scene and the ending is so tediously far-fetched that the overall lasting impression of Red Lights is that it’s a disappointing waste of both a stellar cast and auspicious start.
As a whole, Red Lights is a disappointment, quickly losing structure and spiralling out of control, but its early chills and strong performances from its leading cast make it just about worthy of watching.