Review: Red Lights / Cert: 15 / Director: Rodrigo Cortes / Screenplay:Rodrigo Cortes / Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Robert DeNiro / Release Date: Out Now
Director Rodrigo Cortes made something of a splash two years ago with the film Buried, which put Ryan Reynolds in a box for an hour and change and managed to remain gripping throughout. Hopes were high for whatever Cortes would come up with next. His latest film, which he wrote and directed, is Red Lights, and whilst it’s not a bad film, it’s somehow slightly disappointing.
Red Lights follows paranormal debunkers Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) as Buckley becomes obsessed with proving that renowned psychic, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), is a fake when he comes out of retirement suddenly. Strange things start happening around Buckley and when tragedy occurs things only get weirder.
It’s an intriguing set up and was ripe with possibilities but Red Lights sadly has one of the clunkiest screenplays seen for a while. Whereas Buried was stripped down and brilliant in its simplicity, Red Lights has a few scenes which set up what Margaret and Tom do for a living, with some character development, which take up the entire first act. We get a perfectly good idea of all this from the first scene (although it is dangerously close to the recent Apartment 143 which Cortes also wrote) so the next twenty minutes just feel like padding that would have been better spent exploring the back stories of Silver and Buckley. Of course this being a film about the paranormal and debunking there has to be some kind of twist or revelation (which there is) and truthfully the film would be better off without it. When the reveal comes all the good character work seems like a bit of a waste and it's further evidence that the film didn’t need to be nearly two hours long. Some people may like where the story goes but the film was at its most interesting and intriguing exploring the possible supernatural goings on and the apparent malevolence of De Niro’s character. It’s almost as if Cortes had to include a twist because it was expected and didn’t have the courage to go in the more interesting direction and explore the themes that the film was playing with.
Despite this the film looks great, Xavi Giminez lights the performers extremely well and the sound design gets the most out of the random bangs in the night to make the spine hairs tingle. Sigourney Weaver and De Niro also give their best performances for a long time, unfortunately both belong in a better movie.
Red Lights is a film that, like its subject matter, will divide people. A few may find it brilliant but the rest of us are left feeling underwhelmed.
Extras: Cast Interviews, Director Interview, Making Of, Behind the Scenes.