Rodrigo Cortes – the man behind the Buried (2010) – brings his second English title to the screen with Red Lights (2012) starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, and Robert DeNiro. The narrative follows a pair of psychologists (Murphy & Weaver), who solve issues of the supernatural in a professional manner on behalf of a prestigious US University. Upon the resurfacing of a renowned psychic (DeNiro), the pair take steps to investigate him. So, was it any good?
The answer to that question would be; no. In truth, this picture was poor – one could stretch to suggest it was dire. But, seeing as you’re reading this review, I guess I should (reluctantly) explain why.
As you’ve likely worked out by now, the concept was simple and creative enough. Psychics? “YES!” I hear the Spanish production company scream. But, in truth, it was poorly delivered by a narrative which took so many short cuts that it was almost entirely impossible to take the conclusion of the piece seriously enough to render it ‘good taste’. Usually, when dealing with issues of the supernatural, psychics, magic etc. the writer of the piece has to establish a set of guidelines of what is and is not possible within the alternate universe that they present. The story of Red Lights did very little to do this. In fact, from time to time the story took the concept to such extraordinary lengths that it seemed to be almost made up as they went along. As a member of the audience, regular thoughts of ‘what the heck?’ went through my mind and that wasn’t any error of judgement on my part. Instead, it was the utterly painful effort of the film’s writers. How such a picture managed to acquire such an established cast through a script as poor is truly beyond me; which brings me to the acting.
In short, it was poor. DeNiro wasn’t at all convincing in his role, and whilst Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver performed sufficiently, the rest of the supporting cast was not at all good enough for any major cinematic release. In truth, they weren’t helped by what was poor direction and cinematography, and the film did nothing to shine any of them – other than Murphy – in a positive light.
Cortes’ direction lacked purpose in the majority of the film, and the cinematographer’s decision to move particular shots the way he did had me gritting my teeth in frustration at the poor quality of the photography being presented.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t have stayed past the first hour if I hadn’t paid my money to see it. But, with a conclusion as horrifically delivered – and as damming to the narrative – as this conclusion was, I really wish I hadn’t have stayed at all. From top to bottom, in every aspect of the film-making, this was a poor film which I recommend to nobody. This is the proof that an ensemble cast doesn’t always equal a good movie.