By Anealla Safdar, Digital Department, DFI
Film: Red Lights
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Stars: Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen, Joely Richardson, Toby Jones
Genre: Psychological thriller
Running Time: 113 mins
When lines like “I have yet to witness a single miracle” and “I don’t do hocus pocus” come within three minutes of one another, you can guarantee that both miracles and hocus pocus are impending.
Those are the cynical words of Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver), a scientist who tirelessly tries to disprove the work of mediums, along with her protégé Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy).
Together, they travel around the country in a Pontiac as anti-exorcists; instead of flushing the demons out by connecting with a paranormal universe, doctors Mathenson and Buckley ruin everyone’s fun and simply reveal the tricks so-called mediums have used on their subjects.
They also teach at a university. In one class Sally Owen (Elizabeth Olsen) catches Buckley’s eye and quickly becomes his clingy lover, mentee and expert at pointing out the obvious; ‘you’re hurt’, ‘you’re bleeding’ ‘what’s going on?’ she whimpers.
Now a trio, the scientists need a villain and Uri Geller-esque spoon bender Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) is in town to perform miracles in audience-filled auditoriums.
Blind, suave and responsible for two almost Shakespearean monologues at the film’s finale, De Niro as Silver outperforms his fellow cast-members.
Surprising and not-so-surprising twists are enjoyable, the cataclysmic ending is literally earth-shuddering and, dripping in shades of blue, green and grey, each scene and some use of shaky camera shots add to the atmospheric tension.
The film is also unintentionally funny at times; from the deliverance of cheesy lines from Sigourney Weaver (“When I hear the drumming of hooves, I don’t think of unicorns – I think of horses”) to the horrifying methods used by ‘spiritual’ tricksters to heal, manipulate and shock.
Thirty-nine year old Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés’ last film, the 2010 thriller “Buried” starring Ryan Reynolds, picked up several awards. With “Red Lights” – Cortés also wrote the script; while there’s little doubt he’s a talented director, the weak dialogue in this psychological drama lets the film down.
It’s a worthy watch, though, especially for De Niro fans, especially on Friday 13th.
“Red Lights” is now playing in Doha at the following times –
Landmark Mall: 3.15 pm
Royal Plaza: 1.30pm, 9.15 pm,11.30 pm
The Mall: 11.15 pm