Short Films: Lights Out

In honor of release of Lights Out, the decent little horror films out this week starring Teresa Palmer and Maria Bello, The Short of the Week this time will be David F. Sandberg’s original short film that was adapted into a feature. Lights Out is one of the many in the grand tradition of horror shorts that have been adapted into feature films (Other notable alumni is Saw and Mama). For horror directors, shorts are an easy way to get premises across without having to be bogged down by plots. For Sandberg’s three minute short he started with a simple premise and extracted the maximum amount of creepiness and scares from it. What is lurking in the dark can be the most universal fear next to the fear of heights. It hits on the elemental fear of the unknown.

For the Swedish filmmaker, Sandberg, this short was the beginning of a long dream of being a filmmaker. This is his second short, a short that no one would finance so he decided to make it on his own with his wife, Lotta Losten, who also makes an extended cameo in the feature. Now Sandberg is releasing a feature length version of the short with a $5 million budget and is working on a professional film crew for the first time and is the set to direct more big studio films like Annabelle 2.

Lights Out in its 2 minutes and half running time plays out like a roller coaster ride. As Losten keeps flicking on and off the lights to make sure she truly sees a figure in the dark, the audience is waiting for the sudden jump scare. It’s the same anticipation as going to the first drop of a roller coaster or waiting for the EDM DJ to drop the bass. But, the key is the anticipation is there but Sandberg delays it. Is the jump going to come on the third light click or would it be the sixth? That unknown like the unknown of what is lurking the dark is the key to horror.

I would also recommend Sandberg’s Vimeo site which has lots of cool “Making Of” featurettes.