Movie Review: Red Lights / Cert: 12 / Director: Rogrigo Cortez / Screenplay: Rodrigo Cortez / Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Rober De Niro, Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones, Elizabeth Olsen / Release Date: June 15th
The Zener card moment in Ghostbusters introduces Bill Murray’s character in an exceptionally funny way. The Zener card scene in Red Lights with Sigourney Weaver giving an impassioned speech about the flaws in psychic testing is also amusing and perfectly sums up the mood of this paranormal thriller with a sense of humour and a political edge. Director and writer, Rodrigo Cortés, who previously impressed with Buried, loses some of the focused intensity and delivers a dramatic over the top concoction.
Dr Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) are the paranormal investigative duo fighting against the politics of university budget constraints and the charlatans inhabiting the psychic world. When the legendary psychic showman Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) announces his return to the forum after a thirty year absence the pair quarrel over the need to investigate the authenticity of his “gift”. Matheson wants to leave well alone after a past incident, whilst Buckley is insistently fist banging on about the importance of shedding light on this mentalist. Student, Sally Owen (Elizabeth Olsen) also joins the team as an aspiring investigator and regrettably a love interest for Buckley. Their storyline is weak, but she provides the character through which Cortes can ask questions that may be going through the viewer’s head. Olsen is as always great with what she is given, and the dynamic between her and Murphy works on the mentoring level but falls flat on the romantic side.
From the start it is Weaver who engages and intrigues with her strong, straight talking Matheson and her performance appears effortless as she slips into the role with ease. The motivation behind Matheson’s interminable job is a little shaky but it does allow a vulnerability to be explored in her otherwise tough exterior. Murphy is weirdly endearing as Buckley with his milk drinking idiosyncratic ways, and he gets some exquisitely over the top scenes that need to be embraced for all their theatrical madness. His scenes with De Niro reach from the bizarre to the downright dark. A relentless, brilliantly inserted fight scene that allows for nothing more than a particularly striking image of a blood-soaked Cillian Murphy and a much needed adrenalin rush to pump the audience up for the finale is a highpoint.
At the centre of Red Lights is the idea of questioning preconceived ideas and it attempts to channel the audience along this path. Cortés is going for Hollywood misdirection, however on assembling a film intended to make the viewer question what is going on, the final act is flawed by not letting the audience chew on what has been presented. Engaging at times and full of powerful performances but meandering moments meant to disorientate ruin the rubicund mood. You’ll leave the cinema languishing in or laughing at the absurdity of it all.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10