Red Lights Review

Do you believe what you’re seeing?

Of course you shouldn’t when watching a film like Red Lights, but in spite of knowing the expectations for this genre, you can’t help but get sucked in.

Pysch9logist Margaret Matheson is a professional sceptic, and a damn good one at that.

Working as a paranormal sleuth for an american University she also lectures at, Matheson has taken it on her shoulders to disprove everything that can be disproved in the world of fraudulent psychics.

And as with any medium that claims to be able to read minds or other such nonsense, there is so very much to disprove out there.

Fortunately for Matheson she has Tom Buckley; a talented and eager research assistant who seems happy enough in his modest capacity as her chauffeur, teaching assistant and occasional pickpocket.

Some professional phonies are easier to spot than others mind, so when the infamous psychic Simon Silver materialises after a thirty year hiatus, Buckley is very keen to disprove his famed sleight of hand and charlatan ways.

Having already dealt with him once before, Matheson is understandably less keen.

As Silver deftly turns up the public clamour and media furore surrounding him to eleven, we begin to understand just what it is that the seemingly two like-minded souls of Matheson and Buckley are really searching for.

Red Lights is a subtle supernatural thriller in the mould of an M. Night Shyamalan feature, only this is from the pen and lens of Spanish director Rodrigo Cortes.

As with any film of this ilk, saying too much about the plot will ruin the experience, so I’ll leave the spoilers for other film writers.

As seems to be Sigourney Weaver’s otherworldly lot in her cinematic life, the star of Alien and Ghostbusters plays Margaret Matheson; the doubting Thomas at the heart of Red Lights who revels in revealing many a fraudster’s tells and secrets.

The eternally young looking Cillian Murphy actually looks a little more like his age here, playing the dutiful assistant of Tom Buckley with his usual poise and grace and wrapping his distinctive eyes around his role of observer and student.

Elizabeth Olsen plays his precocious student and butter wouldn’t melt seducer, and there’s even a small role for Submarine star Craig Roberts.

Oh, and Robert De Niro plays the supposedly serial fraudster Simon Silver, or is he?

Red Lights is a decent watch, with Cortes building tension through the almost mundane and ordinary scenes of the first half before ratcheting up the pressure later on with some explosive set pieces.

Traditional plot devices you’d expect of this genre are all present and correct, as is the surprise ending that will leave you going back over earlier events in your head and asking yourself just what it is you believe.

Of course, I usually find it’s best to ignore whatever truth people present to and go on gut instinct instead.
Because people lie, to themselves as much as anyone else, so only you can decide your truth.

Jonathan Campbell

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June 2012
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