Red Lights - Blu-ray Review

'A flawed, deeply uninteresting narrative, which never fully convinces us of its worth, sits like an umbrella over the top of poor direction, editing and performances'

As examples genuinely inept film-making go, Red Lights is right up there with the best/worst of them. A flawed, deeply uninteresting narrative, which never fully convinces us of its worth, sits like an umbrella over the top of poor direction, editing and performances, in a clear candidate for worst film of the year.

Not that it starts that way. An intriguing opening with Tom (Cillian Murphy) and Margaret (Sigourney Weaver) arriving to investigate a paranormal occurrence, features not one but two nods to ideas of sexism; Tom is mistaken for Margaret, the more senior of the two, because he is a man, whilst a third character, pretty and blond, tells Tom not to underestimate her as 'just a hairdresser'.

If this had been the subtext of Rodrigo Cortés' film, some sort of comment on sexist stereotyping based on appearances, then maybe there might have been something worth watching here, but the notion is quickly abandoned, if ever it was there (and perhaps it was, there's something with the Joely Richardson character brewing), and problems start to seep in.

This pre-credit sequence is meant to prove that Tom and Margaret are dynamic investigators, but the paranormal action itself is unclear and their expertise unproven by the end of it. At one point both look as though they doesn't know what's going on and the eventual 'reveal' in the scene hasn't previously been hinted at for us to guess, or at least logically connect to.

This shot, of both 'experts' looking confused, hints at how bad the editing is throughout. Cuts with no clear connection to the prior shot appear with worrying frequency. Characters change location in rooms, or even what they seem to be doing, with a stunning lack of coherence, which pervades the whole endeavour.

That feeling is not helped by the film's character and acting flaws, which are also numerous. As in The Cold Light Of Day, Weaver seems to be increasingly reluctant to show any evidence of acting ability, whilst Murphy seems to have been cast in a role intended for someone much his junior, whining and shouting with increasing frequency and miss-placed angst. Cortés never settles on who our focus should be on out of the duo, that situation eventually resolving itself more by default over anything else.

Towards the end there is a good monologue from Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), delivered in a location the film typically never explains the context of, and a nice about-face. The latter though is handled incredibly poorly by Cortés. It's meant to leave audiences with the 'wow' factor, but the emphasis isn't there, mirroring the rest of the largely aimless too-long running time.



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