Directed by Rodrigo Cortes
“There are two kinds of these people: the ones that really believe they have power and the others that don’t think we can prove them wrong.”
Next up at Sundance from Nostromo Pictures and Antena 3 Films is Red Lights, written, edited and directed by Buried‘s Rodrigo Cortes. The film made its premiere at Sundance last week with some fantastic optimism from moviegoers in Park City. Big money actors in a smaller $15M budget production caught the eyes of many. However, I am not sure everyone was expecting a two-hour repetitive scripting nightmare that had people in the audience falling asleep.
Margaret (Weaver) and Tom (Murphy) are paranormal investigators who set out to prove that claims of the paranormal are fraudulent. They investigate everything from psychic abilities, haunted houses, telekinesis and even faith healers, and they are always successful in proving there is a rational explanation for any supernatural occurrence. They also happen to be teachers, who instruct their same theory to other skeptics and curiosity seekers at the local college. Their ultimate challenge comes when, after thirty years of retirement, Simon Silver (De Niro) decides to head back to the stage to prove that he is indeed the real deal and has supernatural powers. From there our duo are bound and determined to prove he is a fraud.
Had Cortes stuck to this idea and continued with nothing more than these investigations, it would have worked, but the film is split right down the middle when Murphy is forced to take over as lead halfway through the second act. This deviation in the storyline basically starts the film’s events all over again from the beginning.
Another major flaw is the distinct lack of character development and abandonment of plot lines. For example, it is revealed that there is a past between Margaret and Simon having something to do with her comatose son. None of this is ever truly explained or explored. These were things that needed more insight to end the confusion that runs rampant throughout the entire third act.
With some editing to shorten the tedious two-hour runtime, Red Lights would be much more watchable, but in its current state make sure you get a double shot of espresso beforehand, or just watch the last 75 minutes or so and you will not have missed anything.
Please make note that this is supposed to be a paranormal thriller, but it definitely leans more toward the drama side of the street. I applaud Cortes for his ability to tie this cast into these roles, and they played them with all their ability, but in the end… garbage in, garbage out.
2 out of 5