Friday, August 3, 2012

 

Red Lights

Red Lights Do you believe in psychic? Or are you skeptical about a paranormal phenomenon? Or do you simply think all supernatural claims are fraud? That might be an intriguing question you find you are asking yourself at the beginning of Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés's thriller "Red Lights" (Spain/USA 2012 | 113 min.). However, you might also find being teased and left the movie disappointed and frustrated, as the implausible story line hijacks the headline.

Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) are university professors who study paranormal activities. Or, to be more accurate, they investigate and expose fraudulence in psychic practice, and they have been quite successful.

However, when a well-known blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) comes out of his retirement and to perform miracles in front of a sold out audience, the table begins to turn.

It's impossible to avoid any spoiler if I talk more about the story, which also leads the film for a crash-landing, and scatters cliché elements of a typical thriller all over a bloody mess.

Therefore, I stop right there.

Robert De Niro in Red Lights

Like in his terrific thriller "Buried," director Rodrigo Cortés is able to brilliantly create a suspensive and thrilling environment surrounding his protagonists. In the first half of the film, the script works perfectly. The characters argue eloquently about physics and paranormal activities. The film quickly pulls you to take a stand between belief and science.

Unfortunately, that engrossing intelligence fades away later. The film begins to fill with unconvincing scene after scene that only sounds scary, literally, because of the cheesy sound effect in most horror films. The characters also evolve from sharp intellectual to angry violent individuals. During one of the outburst, Dr. Tom Buckley holds his colleague Dr. Paul Shackleton (Toby Jones) in the neck against a glass wall in a university hallway, like a bullying episode in front of a high school locker. Do professors act like? Really?

The film sets the bar high at the start, but slips into a clumsy finish. It's like watching a magic performance, we are left unsatisfied because we cannot figure out the truth behind the magic, yet we are dazzled momentarily at a point during its magical act.

"Red Lights," a Millennium Entertainment release, opens on Friday, August 3, 2012 at Bay Area theaters.


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