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Film Review: Lights (2015)

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SYNOPSIS:

One year ago Lisa’s boyfriend Kurt, the father of her infant child, went missing in the California Desert with five of his friends. When Lisa is contacted by a retired sheriff with his own insights to the case, Lisa and he brother Karl head to the desert, guided by the video footage recovered in Kurt’s tent. Together, they hack through the lies, evasions and threats to unlock a dark mystery.

REVIEW:

Candy Factory is a low budget film distribution company I have been seeing a lot of films from recently, including one which actually impressed me. Recently I got a chance to watch “Lights”, which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. The general run down is a single mom starts investigating the disappearance of her boyfriend, which leads to uncovering a conspiracy cover up. Along the way we as the audience get to watch plot furthering clips of found footage from the camping trip that the characters boyfriend took. I am very pleased that the film is not entirely found footage because, well, that just gets irritating to watch after a while.

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The film really keeps you guessing about what happened, even throwing out a few red herrings to keep the audience guessing. Of course by the time the big reveal happens, you already know its aliens. The film was left wide open for a sequel with watching the lead characters leave to search for the missing boyfriend, and even the boyfriend being tortured in a space ship. Not sure if there will be a sequel, but with how intriguing the film was it could be feasible.

“Lights” is not what I would consider a B-movie, low budget yes, but the camp was really not there. The acting was spot on for a thriller, usually with budget restraints the audience has to suffer through bad acting or poorly written dialogue, this had neither. The actors emoted accurately to the scenes and delivered believable dialogue. In fact there is a scene with a group of friends drinking at house before going on a desert hike the next day, which reminded me of at least 30 people I knew of from when I lived in California.

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There was a surprising accuracy to found here. The only real campy aspect to the whole film comes in one unnecessary scene of men in suits walking down a hall way at the end of the film. Something which is quite forgivable at that point. People living in the California desert also have a stigma of being slightly paranoid and a little conspiracy nutty. The retired sheriff character in the film really has that feel.

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This flick ran on plot, mystery, and acting and did a very good job reeling me in. It was light on the special effects, but utilized practical special effects to get the job done. If the film makers used CGI they did a great job blending and hiding it. The Aliens where well sculpted by their FX team, granted you saw very little of them, the aliens where used very effectively. Blood was kept to a minimum in the film, mostly nose bleeds. The only big FX moments in the film were the alien reveal at the end, and a scene where a survivor reveals major body scars. The gore was kept low, which is not an issue since the film really grips the audience, the gore is not the selling point.

Nils Taylor directed “Lights”, as his first full length film, he is accredited with seven short films and two television episodes. It shows that he has had some practice to really polish his talent, not many people can create a successful thriller horror film on a low budget. I say successful because it was a very balanced film, with storytelling and technical aspects blending together. I would have been easy with the film premise to create a convoluted plot or even get lost in the special effects aspects.

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I am used to seeing directors also double as the writers in the lower budget film market I was pleasantly surprised that Nils Taylor was not the writer, but Ray Fonseca was. Ray Fonseca is an actor, mostly in television and low budget films, including in “Lights”. I liked this film, this is a movie you can watch with all ages, and on a movie night could be watched.

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