Red Lights – Review
July 3, 2012 Leave a comment
Review by FilmFellaJames – 5/10
Ever sat down to watch one of those usually poorly put together shows about ghost hunting, paranormal activity, psychic investigations and shit like that? This is a movie, albeit better produced, about just that kinda guff.
Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy are the academic debunkers. She has been searching and rationalising for thirty years, he has tagged along for some of that and together they trawl the vast landscape of the U.S.A looking for, lecturing about and debunking the suggestion of the paranormal.
Underfunded yet resourceful, the duo face a stern test in the guise of blind psychic, Simon Silver (De Niro) a celebrated but reclusive psychic reappearing in the public eye years after an event at one of his gigs went bad – his main critic suffering a fatal heart attack during his show.
When things go bad again, De Niro accepting this role for one, it’s up to Cillian Murphy to set the records straight and expose Simon Silver as a fraud and a charlatan, but, will he? After all De Niro, who played the Devil in Angel Heart (Underrated and brilliant film, if you haven’t seen it.) may in fact be the real deal, a genuine, no strings attached version of our UK genius, Derren Brown.
The film opens up in fairly dramatic fashion, our Fred and Daphne attend a house supposedly haunted only to find that kids and a sneaky hairdresser are the master minds of this particular “haunting”, setting the film up to suggest that this could be an interesting watch, a playing it straight adult version of a Scooby Do Movie maybe. However, I was confident that it would be decent at the very least as Rodrigo Cortes who previously directed claustrophobic gold in the form of Buried, managed to make a film about a dude in a box suitably dramatic and engaging despite the fact that it was shot primarily in one location, a box, so why couldn’t he do it again? This time he takes his camera on a journey and the result is quite simply interesting. Not particularly good, but, interesting nonetheless.
I am constantly drawn into discussions about paranormal stuff because my whole life has revolved around mysticism and religion. I grew up in Africa bombarded by “miracles”, faith and belief. Currently my other half’s family are interested in the topic of the paranormal and psychics and I being the one who “only believes in science”, means that I am also usually bombarded with opinion in greater numbers as others endeavour to communicate to me their own beliefs. Watching Red Lights was therefore therapy for me and I was suitably engaged for the first hour or so because I was watching it with the missus who regularly rebukes me for my dogmatic trust in the validity of science. Sigourney Weaver was my mouthpiece in this one because she was saying all the stuff I regularly argue about and I felt smug about it because Weaver was as usual, brilliant. She maintains mastery of her craft and she really encompassed the rational of one determined to seek but who ultimately is left without any real evidence, which of course most of this stuff usually lacks. I was smug until I realised the missus was falling asleep and therefore all of Sigourneys good work was proving somewhat pointless.
This is when the movie fell apart for me. It quickly ran out of steam, despite a sterling performance from Murphy, cast as the lead in a film with two Hollywood heavyweights. He gets the shit beaten out of him in a toilet, but apart from that odd highlight, the movie just gets a bit boring. Even the ending was underwhelming. You will see why when you watch it and despite the fact that I wont be scoring this one particularly high, it is still worth a watch if you can be arsed, which I was. Cortes delivers a somewhat thrilling second offering, but despite the jumpy bits, I felt this film was too thin because it got overly focussed on one aspect, De Niros character. However, had it followed the path it suggested at the start, it would have turned out to be a bit of a low rent X-Files movie and too be honest, there are enough of those out there already.
It’s interesting but thin.