The running time on this title is less than three minutes. The reason Lights Out is so slimline, is because this is a horror short produced in 2013 for the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge, and released via Vimeo and YouTube. It is a neat little slice of horror which is genuinely terrifying.
Set on a rain-soaked night, Lights Out takes place in an apartment. An unnamed woman is getting ready for bed, going through the routine of switching off the lights in her home. As she turns off the light in the hallway, a figure appears in the darkness. Not quite sure if her eyes are playing tricks on her, the woman presses the light switch to once again illuminate the space.
With the lights back on, the figure disappears. The woman turns the lights off a second time, and the figure reappears. Lights on it is there; lights off it is gone.
Over the next couple of minutes, the woman is haunted by something which exists purely in the shadows, only materialising when it is dark. So, she does what anyone who is at home alone and scared would do – she retreats to the bedroom and hides under the duvet. But unfortunately, her bed offers little protection, and her temporary sanctuary is broken by one final scare.
Directed by David F. Sandberg, Lights Out is a very simple tale which centres around a basic human fear of the dark. It plays on something we have all experienced, that feeling that something might be creeping in the shadows, then intertwines it with the common misbelief that a duvet will somehow offer safe haven against the forces of darkness. This is of course madness – duvets are for sleeping under and snuggles and will not reduce the scare factor.
Speaking of scares, there are at least three good jump scares in Lights Out, and these are achieved within the miniscule timeframe, on next-to-no budget, and with the use of one actor. And by achieving all this, Lights Out puts to shame many big budget pictures that have delivered even less but with more resources.
Perhaps most notable of all about Lights Out is that the movie industry was so impressed with this short it developed Lights Out into a feature-length film, which was given the imaginative title of… Lights Out. The movie, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and released in 2016, retained director David F. Sandberg, but this time worked from a screenplay by Eric Heisserer (the screenwriter behind Bird Box).
Sadly, 2016’s Lights Out is not as good as the short that spawned it. The feature film struggled to develop the ‘monster in the dark’ premise in an interesting way, and proved that more often than not, the best horror stories are the simplest.
Cast and crew
Lights Out is written, directed, produced and scored by David F. Sandberg. Lotta Losten is the sole cast member.
Should you want to check this short out (and you really should) it can be found on YouTube.
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this spotlight post focusing on a must-see horror short. This ‘spotlight’ on Lights Out is one post in a series of ten posts looking at superb horror movies and shorts which you may or may not have seen.
Other posts in this series include: Suspiria (1977), The Strange Thing About the Johnsons (2011), Don’t Look Now (1973), Psycho (1960), The Omen (1976), The Blair Witch Project (1999), The ‘Burbs (1989), The Woman in Black (2012), and Bone Tomahawk (2015).
The aim is to spread some horror love around the internet, and possibly introduce you to a slice of horror that you may have overlooked. So, make sure to add this short to your next horror movie marathon.
And for more horror-related content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.