Red Lights Film Review: Truth is an illusion

This paranormal thriller, by Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés, is full of suspense and ambition, yet will leave you sorely disappointed.

Red Lights follows Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), who are both experienced sceptics of the supernatural, as they expose fraudsters who otherwise would make their money from those unsuspecting clients who believe.

This is until Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a blind psychic veteran, returns for a final tour. Without considering the warning given by Matheson, Buckley opens an investigation into this veteran which leads to a suspense filled climax, which involves a lot of birds flying into windows.

Red Lights is Cortés’ second English feature-film, his first being Buried, 2010, another suspense filled film. Red Lights opens with the scene of a séance which is just another day in the job for Matheson and Buckley. This scene sets up the tension and eerie suspense for the rest of the film. The performances of the A-list cast; Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy and Robert De Niro are superb and add to the intense atmosphere that oozes out of this film like a Hitchcokian thriller. Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Sally Owen, on the other hand, does little to raise the suspense of further the plot.

Red Lights is a film about finding truth, even in the darkest corners of corruption. The film abandons all beliefs in faith as Matheson represents an atheist who desperately wants to believe but cannot. This is a slightly controversial matter as the film questions our beliefs as Matheson and Buckley expose all supernatural activity as fraudulent, thus denying the ability for people to believe in an afterlife and, thus, God himself. The film, therefore, states that truth is an illusion, which takes the film down to its ideological foundations and the idea that the truth in which we believe that we live in is in fact a lie. This idea that our society is completely controlled by ideology and the belief of truth, much like the victims of these preying psychics in the film, is prominent in the film. This idea grounds the film into our society and gives it a depth that crates an intense atmosphere.

However, by the end of the film it is apparent that this testament is far too risky for the film to take as it soon reaffirms those beliefs and the status quo. This is extremely unsatisfying for the audience as it feels as though the film is cheating them of a gripping ending to suit the tension of the film. This twist at the end contradicts the film before it as it reduces itself to the conservative status quo instead of leaving the audience questioning their beliefs and what truth really is.

Red Lights had real potential as it is a gripping thriller that sets the audience up for a great suspense filled film, but it is let down by its own ending. Cortés perhaps needed to be a bit more trusting that the film itself offered the audience enough instead of offering a disappointing twist at the end.

Red Lights Film Review written by Shirley Welton who also blogs at Beyond the Edges of the Frame

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *