The 2012 film Red Lights had me thinking about the lack of films that tackle the debunking of paranormal phenomena. With all the recent films to glamorize it (the Paranormal Series being a good example), there is a perfect opportunity to investigate and possible prove it as fraudulent…or at least show how much of it is or is not.
Red Lights was a good thriller that derived its scare from sounds — a sudden boom here, a loud crack there — and it also has good thrilling techniques and crazy camera angles that further confuse an already confused audience.
The film’s introduction provides some background on the professions of our two main characters, Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Dr. Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy). Matheson is a cold and emotionless women who sees people claiming to read minds and predict the future as frauds.
“The reason people believe in ghosts is the same reason ghosts haunt houses, because it would mean there is something after death.”
Her sidekick Buckley, however, is young and could have a much more successful profession yet he chooses to do it out of a personal vendetta against a psychic who claimed his mother’s stomach pain was indigestion when it turned out to be inoperable stage 4 cancer.
While Matheson claims that she has never saw a miracle, there is one psychic, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) who stills manages to puzzle her. Silver, who returned to the stage after a 30-year exile, is the next target for this duo. But of course it will not be as easy as the other cases have been.
Red Lights, directed by Rodrigo Cortés (known for Buried), has these great expectations, but when you finally reach the ending it crashes and burns. It did an excellent job showing Silver getting into the minds of Matheson and Buckley. It had a great balance between action and drama, but the twists revealed at the conclusion leave you saying, “What the F***.”
I like to compare the affects of this ending of this to the 2002 M. Night Shyamalan film, Signs. Similar to Red Lights, Signs had an amazing introduction and middle section. It was creepy, well-paced and did not divulge too much information or imagery.
I am always saying that the key to a good thriller or horror film is to keep it in our imaginations, do not show too much and to keep us on our toes. The end of Signs just upset me when I saw that poorly animated aliens slinking across the floor.
Naturally, I will not divulge the ending to this film. I will say that it was not as bad or as predictable as the ending of Shutter Island.