Friday, August 17, 2012

“Red Lights” (2012) with some spoilers

Movies about “paranormal events” are often of high interest to people concerned with spiritual matters. Whether they try to tell a story about the validity of Spiritualism or are more on the debunking side of things, they explore the supernatural side of reality. Of course most fall far short of being truly engaging. They are either too fantastically silly or they have a chip on their shoulder about there being anything unexplainable in the world. In any case, when they aren’t intelligent they may still provide some entertainment.

When the trailers for “Red Lights” came out earlier this year, it looked as though it might be one of the more promising sorts of paranormal film, the kind dealing with investigators coming up against a tough challenge and all the self-examination that entails. For the most part that is true. The early debunking of some minor cases is suspenseful and thrilling. The personalities of our characters are developed. The superstar psychic is introduced and, with him, doubts are raised. Those doubts are driven to a fever pitch with the death of one of our protagonists. The resulting action begins to feel like as scary and unstable as the delusions brought on by such a fever.

Then, the psychic submits himself to a series of scientific tests and seemingly passes. There is a strange scene where our protagonist confronts the psychic who really appears to have some sort of demonic power, another where his student assistants debunk the scientific tests, and the unearned TWIST ENDING.

I won’t completely spoil that ending, but it does spoil the experience. Instead of an honest exploration of the supernatural we get a story that wants it both ways; a story that doesn’t believe in more than meets the eye, but that wants to wink at the possibility of such things. It wouldn’t hurt so much if the rest of the film had been as stupid as the denouement.

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