5.5 out of 10

Release Date: 14th September 2012

Director: Pat Dolan (Awaydays)

Cast: Steven Waddington, Kate Ashfield, Tasha Connor, Craig Parkinson, Andrea Lowe, Hannah Clifford, Jo Hartley with Gary Lewis and Martin Compston

Writer: Pat Dolan


when-the-lights-went-out-(2012)-large-pictureWhy bill a film as a true story and then sex it up to an inch of it’s life so that only the most gullible of burks will believe it?  When The Lights Out starts brilliantly then over plays it’s hand as if it doesn’t want todays’ ADD afflicted audiences to switch off.  Set in 1974, this true story about Yorkshire’s very own Amityville Horror works it’s own creepy magic but I thought the last half an hour was bulging with lazy short cuts, ridiculous plot machinations and probably a total disregard of what really happened.  I won’t spoil the origins of the poltergeist for you, it makes for an interesting backstory.  The odd tea-cup jumping off the table or a swinging light-shade alone wouldn’t have been good enough reason to make a feature length movie but the extent to which the makers of When The Lights Go Out go to in the name of truth are quite hilarious and they spoil all the has gone before.  Also if the production couldn’t afford decent special effects they shouldn’t have had a visual reveal.  Firstly, I’m not one for ghosts, I don’t believe in them but  I doubt very much that if they did exist they would have the ability to turn their visuals on and off like a light.  One minute it’s invisible, the next minute it’s appearing behind the couch and in reflections. Hmmm.

When The Lights Go Out wins out with a committed cast.  First timer Tasha Connor plays Sally who moves to a new council house on the edge of town with her parents, Jenny (KATE ASHFIELD – 7 LIVES) and Len (STEVEN WADDINGTON  – THE SWEENEY MOVIE). Almost immediately the poltergeist makes contact with Sally. The parents agree that she is just acting up because she didn’t want to move out of her old house.  It’s not until the dad has a really uncomfortable experience in the coal hole do they begin to take events seriously.  Events eventually culminates in blackmailing a local priest (GARY LEWIS – NEDS) with photographs of an discretion to do an exorcism.  The blackmail sequence is a ridiculous shortcut and makes me wonder how much of this was true?  If we were to abandon the facts and were presented with a horror film that didn’t want further endorsement through being based on real life events would When The Lights Go Out stand up as good haunted house movie.  Well, yes, this would have improved the experience significantly because I mainly sat there thinking, that wouldn’t have happened…Bullsh*t.  The ending will make your jaw drop in quite how powerful the poltergeist turns bout to be and you’ll need a huge capacity to suspend disbelief.

The period production is top notch, with the game cast wearing clothes that haven’t seen daylight since before I was born!  The vehicles and furnishings are all spot on. It’s great that such care has been taken to re-create the time period so accurately.  The film also boasts some fine actors in the supporting cast- Martin Compston (RED ROAD) shows up as a concerned school teacher, when Sally keeps falling asleep at school, Craig Parkinson (SCREWED) and Andrea Lowe (ROUTE IRISH) also provide strong support as concerned family members who also get involved to combat the unclean demon.

When the Lights Go Out is a very potent scarer and is recommended from that point of view.  The claims to reality are obviously grossly exaggerated and that will effect your approach to viewing it.  Try to see it as a straight up haunted house film and you’ll get ample enjoyment from it.  I certainly had a disturbed nights sleep after watching it, as one or two scenes, namely the coal hole and a sceptical journalists fate stuck with me until morning.  A cut above the usual films of this type including Hollywood attempts.  Just don’t believe the tripe!

5.5 out of 10 – The film was shot at the real life location – 30 East Drive, Chequerfield Estate, Pontefract. I wonder if the film crew saw anything? Also real-life events happened in the summer of 1966 and beyond. The family also had a 15 year old son who does not appear in the film.

More reading: SPOILERS: Local Newspaper Article 



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