Movie Review: “Red Lights”

2half-starHere’s one thing the movies get wrong pretty consistently — the reaction of seemingly rational people upon seeing the supernatural, the impossible, the miraculous.

“Red Lights” is a promising psychological thriller that gets that detail just right.

Sigourney Weaver is an academic, a professional paranormal debunker who teaches a course in debunking–not trusting just your eyes. Cillian Murphy is her able assistant.

After thirty years of investigation, eyewitness to all sorts of phenomena, “I have yet to witness a single miracle” Margaret Matheson (Weaver) declares – to her students, her new intern (Elizabeth Olsen), to TV interviewers.

Her assistant Tom (Murphy) is even less credulous.

“The only way to pull a rabbit out of a hat is to put it here in the first place,” Tom says

But he’s particularly concerned when Matheson is loaded for bear for the return of an ancient nemesis. Simon Silver (Robert DeNiro) was pretty special, back in the day – a hard nut for a paranormal debunker to crack. Now, he’s returned from a self-imposed exile, a sensation who enthralls vast audiences with his psychic abilities. Margaret is miffed. Tom is worried. Silly (Olsen) is caught in the middle.

The skies are grey with foreboding in this Rodrigo Cortes (“Buried”) film, the academic settings – blind studies where one expert (Toby Jones) tries to prove Silver and others could be “real,” while Matheson dogmatically resists any “evidence” as fraud.

“I try to understand, not believe.”

DeNiro almost always suggests danger on the screen, and we wonder, start to finish, what he is capable of should Matheson and Tom trip him up. But Murphy, too, has an air of menace about him. What might he do in response?

(Roger Moore’s interview with Cillian Murphy is here)

MPAA Rating:R for language and some violence

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert DeNiro, Elizabeth Olsen

Credits: Written and directed by Rodrigo Cortes. A Millennium release.

Running time: 1:57

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