Investigating the paranormal
Red Lights (2012)
Duration: 113 minutes
Directed by: Rodrigo Cortés
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Joely Richardson, Elizabeth Olsen, Craig Roberts, Toby Jones
A stellar cast and an Alfred Hitchcock-inspired director make Red Lights a polished and accomplished effort.
In 2010, Rodrigo Cortés had directed the very low-budget Buried that saw Ryan Reynolds buried in a coffin. It was an exceptionally riveting film and the director’s future looked promising. This film confirms it.
Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy plays Dr Margaret Matheson and Tom Buckley, a master and protégé, who make it their point in life to find a rational explanation for every phenomenon that many believe to be supernatural.
They will do anything to expose those who are trying to hoax others into believing paranor-mal events.
So they look for the “red lights”, the behaviour that exposes that something is not right and that will reveal the con artist’s work.
Meanwhile, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a mentalist, resurfaces after 30 years. He had disappeared after an accident during one of his “performances”. Simon is supposed to be very powerful and can even induce heart attacks in anyone who does him wrong or criticises him. Tom wants to investigate but Margaret seems to be afraid and that is when Tom realises he does not know the whole story.
Red Lights fits into the vein of films of the likes of The Awakening (2011) where sceptics investigate supernatural occurrences.
The strength of Red Lights lies in the fact that the audience too is sceptic at the beginning and thus it starts injecting doubts into our minds and the film’s protagonists.
Cillian Murphy gives a very strong performance and his visions give the film a strong spooky atmosphere.
Robert De Niro delivers a characterisation that seems to be based on the controversial self-proclaimed psychic Uri Geller.
He is perfectly ambiguous and flips from the wonderfully weird, to a darkness that is very tangible.
Sigourney Weaver gives the film added intellectual strength and adds layers to the film’s sheen. The supporting turns from Joely Richardson and Toby Jones are spot on and provide the film with strong foundations.
However, the film’s backbone is provided by its direction which is not hurried, carefully lays out its story and makes sure to provide the audience with a view from both sides of the fence, regarding the topic in question.
The film, in fact, seems to be based on real-life investigations as it piles on the hard facts. The way con artists fake the supposedly “supernatural” occurrences are well presented.
This is a film that X-Files fans will love for the rational approach it adopts. The balance between drama and its investigative approach is well-honed.
In the film’s ending, the director reveals how much of a Hitchcock neophyte he is and provides the audience with an extra added twist.