Red Lights (2012)

Somehow, in spite of an intimidating cast including Sigourney Weaver, Toby Jones, Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy, and Elizabeth Olsen with nothing to do, I had never heard of Red Lights before Netflix suggested it to me. But just a glance was enough to tell me that it seemed right up my alley. A cerebral thriller about skeptics debunking paranormal phenomena and clashing with an ominous psychic? Sign me up. I was hoping for some slick production values and lots of shots of people looking intently at electronic equipment–the science equivalent of sorting paperwork and looking at old photos–and that’s mostly what I got.

Unfortunately, Red Lights is a bit of a mess. It’s been compared unfavorably with the films of M. Night Shyamalan, but I think a more apt comparison would probably be to early David Fincher, albeit without Fincher’s tight control of the material. There are lots of good moments scattered throughout Red Lights, but they never really come together, and are hampered by a meandering script and a “twist ending” that is at once the only ending that the movie could ever possibly have had, and yet also somehow largely unsupported by the preceding film. Honestly, I found myself kind of wishing it was just a whole movie about feuding college departments and the dangers of confirmation bias…

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