Red Lights is a psychic thriller, written and directed by Rodrigo Cortes. The advertising bills this, somewhat hyperbolically, as 'this year's The Sixth Sense'. Sadly, this film shows about a tenth of that film's style. What you have is a very neat episode of The X-Files hidden amongst a feature-length morass.
Dr Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Dr Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) are scientists who spend their lives debunking the paranormal, providing rational explanations for irrational events. However, when reclusive medium Simon Silver (Robert de Niro) emerges from a thirty-year hiatus- after seemingly causing his fiercest critic to die of a heart attack- Tom decides he wants to go after Silver, despite Margaret's warnings. As Tom's investigations proceed, strange things start to happen around him, driving him into a heightened state of paranoia. Is Silver a charlatan? Or does he truly possess paranormal powers? Will you much care by the time the film winds down to the twist ending?
Performances are pretty decent; Cillian Murphy basically carries the film and despite veering into overacting towards the end as the paranoia builds up, is a solid lead. Weaver gives what can best be described as a glorified cameo, but is absolutely great in the role of Tom's mentor. De Niro sadly seems to have turned into a bit of a parody of himself; however, the slightly hammy script does little to help him out. There's decent support from Elizabeth Olsen and Toby Jones in small and slightly thankless parts as a slightly unnecessary love interest for Tom and a professor who believes in the paranormal respectively.
There's a lot being made of the 'twist' (which I won't spoil for those who may want to see it). It doesn't come so far out of left-field as to be truly implausible; you kind of buy it as an explanation even if you don't truly buy into it. It's fairly neat if not exactly original but provides an interesting denouement to a mish-mash of a movie. Theer are some arresting visuals and several very well filmed and presented set-pieces; the investigation of a supposedly haunted house which opens the film and the elaborate take-down of a fraudulent clairvoyant especially stand out.
All said, it's a decent enough movie, hardly groundbreaking but certainly worth a look.
Rating: 3 out of 5