Red Lights - Don't believe everything your brain tells you!
Red Lights 2012 (DVD)
Member Name: Jojoborne
Red Lights 2012 (DVD)
Advantages: Good actors. Good story. Nice twists. keeps you interested.
Disadvantages: Plot a little weak at times.
Red Lights is an American thriller written and directed by Rodrigo Cortes, the Spanish film maker, who is more widely known for his 2010 movie 'Buried'. Due to Cortes directing this movie it is often touted as a joint Spanish and American production and was released to cinemas in Spain. After debuting at numerous film festivals at the start of this year it went on to be released on a small scale to cinemas across America and eventually worldwide. The movie was known as 'Luces Rojas' in Cortes' native Spain.
The story centres on Thomas Buckley (Cillian Murphy) who is a qualified physicist and works as an assistant for renowned academic and paranormal debunker, Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver). Matheson has spent the last thirty years investigation paranormal phenomena and has not yet once come across a case that could not be explained in one way or another. The opening scene of the movie gives us a glimpse at what Buckley and Matheson do at a séance with a so-called medium who is trying to rid a family of a presence in their home.
At the same time as this we see the re-emergence of a former psychic and medium from the sixties named Simon Silver (Robert DeNiro) who more than thirty years later has decided to make a comeback. He is infamous for his arch enemy, a reporter and sceptic, dying at one of his shows with a heart attack. Silver retired after that show and has been a recluse ever since. He is also blind.
Buckley wants to go after Silver to finally give them the credit they deserve for their work but Matheson warns him that he is messing with a dangerous man. Matheson will always go out of her way to disprove these charlatans but in the early seventies in a meeting with Silver she experienced the only encounter that has troubled her. Silver told her something about her child, which raised her suspicions of how far these people go to gain knowledge of their victims in order to cheat them. Her little boy collapsed at four years old and has been in a coma for thirty years.
What ensues is a fast paced tale of deceit, con men and thankfully a plot that finally shows these idiots up for what they really are; fakes!
But this story holds a twist that is quite tantalising although obviously based on fiction, which every good story should be after all. I won't give away anything here as it would kill the film for you if you haven't seen it. Let's just say that not everything is as it seems.
Firstly, let me say that any film that debunks these morons for what they are immediately gets a tick in my book. For the life of me I can't understand why people are gullible enough to think that these people can actually talk to their dead relatives. I know that many people reading this will disagree with me because someone has told them something no one could possibly know but believe me, they knew and they found out somehow. The mediums and palm readers in tents at fairgrounds have a system and a gang of people working the grounds. They follow people, listen in on conversations and make notes in books. This is all passed on through whatever means they have at hand and before the 'customer' even enters the tent they know what you're hoping to hear. Mediums have had people track down ticket buyers from their addresses and weeks before the show they will have been through peoples dustbins, acted as postmen, door to doors and a numerous array of other methods, in order to find out anything they can.
Hypnotists also play on people's gullibility and the simple fact is you cannot be hypnotised if you don't want to. People cannot read minds. People cannot see through walls. One famous or should I say infamous TV medium claims to hear children's thoughts. Rubbish! One woman can talk to dead horses; well, good look with that! It is all a massive con to enable them to get rich off other peoples misery and gullibility. I would just like to point out that not one person in history has been able to substantiate their claims under rigorous testing. The inconclusive results usually mean that the people doing the test could not find the clever way that the participant had beaten the system. You only have to look at the way some magic has been shown for what it is by the likes of Penn and Teller and The Unknown magician.
Magicians all over the world hate these people because they have shown them up for the charlatans they are. On this argument you're either a person who believed that David Copperfield made a jumbo jet disappear or you're a person who knew he didn't and couldn't care less anyway. No prizes for guessing which category I fall into. I could go on but that would detract from the movie.I thought Cillian Murphy was really good in this movie. It was a bit of a different role for him as we usually see him playing a bad guy or someone evil. He gets this role absolutely bang on and comes across exactly how he is supposed to on screen. There are some hard-hitting scenes and one brutal fight scene, which, to pardon a pun, pulls no punches. His scenes with DeNiro are brilliant and you really could cut the tension with a knife.
Sigourney Weaver is her usual confident self and playing a woman, Margaret Matheson, who exudes confidence but is quite fragile underneath it all. I like Sigourney and although she is not butt-kicking any aliens in this movie she comes across as the accomplished actor she is.
Robert DeNiro needs no introduction and he still has that air about him. To hear him talk even when he is acting, makes you feel like you could be listening to any average Joe; but that is the beauty of DeNiro. He can turn it on at the drop of a hat. The scenes where his character has to stand on a stage and talk to a thousand people are carried out with consummate ease. I'll always be a DeNiro fan so perhaps I am a little biased but the guy can still hold your attention and let's not forget that Bobby is sixty-nine years old now. For such an accomplished and legendary actor the best thing about DeNiro is that he keeps it simple. The critics have basically slated him and said that is career is in a downward spiral, but, like I said, give the guy a break, he sixty-nine and has been acting for longer than most of the critics have been alive. Maybe this movie will be seen as another step backwards for him but I disagree and felt that he did a good job.Elizabeth Olsen plays the part of a student, Sally Owen, who is a big fan of her teacher Matheson and builds a relationship of sorts with Buckley.
Leonardo Sbaraglia does a decent job as a psychic and medium named Palladino. The scenes with him on stage as they try to debunk him are very well played out.
Rodrigo Cortes has done a good job directing this movie and his screenplay holds up to a certain extent. There are a few plot holes and the ending could've have been better. The movie's saving grace is the actors and they keep the plot rolling along, when it may have fell apart with lesser actors. There is, of course, the obvious fact that believers of this mumbo-jumbo will be on his back over him trashing their hard work but I suppose they can always turn to pick-pocketing or the long con to get their kicks. Overall I thought the movie was structured well and flowed along nicely. It is essentially a thriller and has a nice twist to it that helps keep you interested until the end. It is by no means a fantastic film but it not a bad film or a run-of-the-mill film either. I would say it is enjoyable and I was interested even more for the reasons I have mentioned, the fact that it shows these emotional muggers up for what they really are.
There is a really good scene with Sigourney Weaver and a scientist where she totally disproves his months' work in thirty seconds; priceless and a perfect example of how even scientists can be gullible when the want or need to believe outweighs the simple facts of the matter.
I think many people will find the film dull due to the fact that a plot normally tackles the paranormal from a believer's point of view and they are treated to something mysterious and unexplained. Cortes' movie, for me, makes you think and also makes you realise that most stuff can be explained easily if you open your eyes. It also still holds some modicum of suspense in the fact that we don't know if Silver is the real deal or a fake until the end of the movie and the twist adds that little bit of wonderment and an underlying question to the fold.
The score to the movie was written by Victor Reyes, who also worked with Cortes on 'Buried'.
The standard DVD contains the following extras:
"Making of Red Lights" (10:41) contains production footage, comments from the director and the cast, interviews, and a few remarks from Spanish crew members (which are translated in subtitles).
"Behind the Scenes" (1:58) offers B-roll clips from the filming of three scenes that show Cortés directing in Spanish and English.
"Cast Interviews" (11:38) gathers thoughts on the film, the characters, the director, production in Barcelona, and the paranormal from Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Robert De Niro, and Elizabeth Olsen.
"Director's Interview" (5:41) Rodrigo Cortés speaks in English about his film, its themes, the characters and cast, and his preference for physical horror over supernatural horror.
The DVD starts with trailers for The 'Babymakers', 'Intruders', and 'The Paperboy'. The Previews menu supplies access to each of those, as well as the Red Lights theatrical trailer.
The movie's budget was an estimated fourteen million and it made just over half of that back from the box office, albeit with a limited release.
The movie runs for 113 minutes.
It is available from all good DVD stockist and online stores and is relatively cheap to buy. It can be picked up for as little as ninety-nine pence.I give this movie three out of five stars. Some good acting performances and good direction but the plot could've been a little stronger and more defined.
Summary: A delve into the charlatans of the medium racket