Starring Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, and Cillian Murphy, this movie seems like a sure thing. I mean what can go wrong with a cast like that? So, I started watching it and soon found myself loving it. Red Lights is a psychological thriller with a possible supernatural twist. I say possible not only because I don’t want to spoil anything but also because this is the main driving force of the movie. We will be following a team of scientists investigating paranormal claims and debunking them. What a novel approach! And wouldn’t you know it, it turns out that all the cases happen to be hoaxes.
However, the plot thickens when they start working on Simon Silver, one of the most famous psychics in the world. He’s been retired for almost thirty years but he’s back now and ready to wow the audiences once again. This provides a perfect opportunity for Professor Margaret Matheson and her assistant Tom to debunk him. When we’re talking about the quest for the truth in this supposedly supernatural world, one name pops up. And that name is James Randi, a man who devoted his life to this quest.
Oozing with mystery and suspense, Red Lights is a movie that’s going to keep your attention. Of course, all three of our leads gave convincing performances. And the same can be said for the supporting cast. The story is quite original although it reminds me of 1408 starring John Cusack. This question of what is real and what’s going to happen in the end is quite intriguing. And this is why I didn’t want to go into any details regarding the story. However, I will do exactly that if you keep reading. So, I think that the best course of action is to see the movie and then come back here.
It’s fast-paced, atmospheric, and yes, I’ll say it, compelling. The fact that I feel so strongly about certain elements of it perhaps only speaks to its quality. It’s definitely polarizing. When it comes to the technical details, they’re simply marvelous. The cinematography was excellent, featuring high contrast realization of the main story’s dark nature. And if the movie seems a bit confusing at times, don’t worry, everything will be explained during that controversial finale…
I think I made it pretty clear that what follows are some major spoilers. Spoilers that might ruin your viewing experience. Although when you find out what they are you might not even see the movie. I leave that decision to you. So, what is this big thing we need to talk about, this big twist? Well, we find out that Tom Buckley, Matheson’s assistant is actually psychic. He’s the one with the special powers and he wasn’t aware of them up until this point. Wow, what a twist.
One of the reasons why I’m writing about this is because I feel cheated. Here I was, not just a skeptic but also an atheist, expecting a juicy scientific explanation and I got the shaft instead. And for a good reason too! I mean, I was expecting a juicy scientific explanation for a good reason because they were hinting at it throughout the movie. And yes, you could argue that this is petty of me and that I should just man up. After all, here I am, recommending movies to you and I can’t get over a single plot twist.
It’s not the plot twist that bothers me it’s the broader implications and the cheapness of it. And when I saw Silver performing “psychic surgery” on stage, I got extra mad. Mostly because I so vividly remember that scene from Man on the Moon, a movie based on the real-life of Andy Kaufman and starring Jim Carrey. Everything in Red Lights seems to be designed to pull at your emotional strings without any regard for storytelling.
In fact, I can feel that now that I’m getting emotional about this so I better cut it short. I still don’t get why the sudden and rushed death of Professor Matheson had to happen. Finally, I would like to offer my twist ending: we find out that Silver is behind it all. So, the twist is that there’s no twist. He killed Matheson with stronger meds, set up Tom Buckley with a sexy assistant, and so forth… Tell me what you think in the comments below.
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Writer: Rodrigo Cortés
Cast: Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Jones
Fun Facts: James Randi exposed supposed psychic Peter Popoff back in 1986 for using the same trick we see the faith healer perform with the help of his wife in this movie. They actually used some of the dialogue from that very real case here.