[ C+ ]

There are stylish horror films, and there are horror films with stylists. Lights Out is the latter. It's actually a well-made haunter with some effective jump scares and a couple of great laughs.

A general audience will be unnerved, occasionally scared out of their wits, and probably satisfied by this old-fashioned exploration of fear of the dark. Horror enthusiasts will bemoan this tepid, overly safe foray that expands debut director David F. Sandberg's award-winning three-minute short into a Hollywood cakewalk. Little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is the most believable character, though none of the performances is poor. Big sister Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) is the bad girl protagonist whose walls are plastered with posters of major-label metal acts like Avenged Sevenfold and Ghost—but she doesn't listen to any metal in the entire film. That's probably due to budget restrictions, but Sandberg should have that solved soon enough since 5 mil isn't much to recoup for a ghost flick getting a wide release. Hopefully, he's proven himself a capable studio lapdog and will be given a longer leash in the future.

Rated PG-13.