*/**** Image A- Sound A Extras D+
starring Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Maria Bello
screenplay by Eric Heisserer, based on the short film by David F. Sandberg
directed by David F. Sandberg
by Bill Chambers SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. This year's Brian Helgeland Award, named in honour of the man who wrote the Oscar- and Golden Raspberry-winning L.A. Confidential and The Postman, respectively, in the same year, goes to Eric Heisserer, who has somehow written one of the year's best movies about motherhood, Arrival, and one of its worst, Lights Out. Lights Out is not a good movie about anything, really (save perhaps the value of crank flashlights); as with the Heisserer-penned remakes of The Thing and A Nightmare on Elm Street, the Lights Out screenplay is joylessly aspirational in the way of a personal assistant doing menial chores to accumulate credit--the thankless task in this case adapting David F. Sandberg's simple but effective micro-short of the same name. That director Sandberg opted not to write it himself implies the short was intended as a calling-card rather than a proof-of-concept, and his direction of the feature hardly evolves its meat-and-potatoes style. He created a monster and now he's riding its coattails; what Lights Out desperately needs is someone with a vision for the film, not just a career.