Reviewed by: Andrea McAteer
|Featuring:||Robert De Niro … Simon Silver
Sigourney Weaver … Margaret Matheson
Cillian Murphy … Tom Buckley
Elizabeth Olsen … Sally Owen
Toby Jones … Paul Shackleton
Joely Richardson … Monica Handsen
Craig Roberts … Ben
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Cindy Cowan Entertainment
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“Is anybody there?”
When I decided to review “Red Lights,” I didn’t know much about the movie. All I had seen was a tagline that said “This year’s ‘Sixth Sense’.” As I watched it, I hoped it was not creepy or spooky and delving into the supernatural. I have to say, the movie was not what I expected and was actually good. It’s almost a simple story, not very deep, in spite of the twists. It is a good example of just watching a movie for fun and to be entertained—not a great film, just good.
The movie follows a professor, Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant, Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), who investigate reports of paranormal activity. Their goal is to prove such activity as fraudulent. Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) is a legendary psychic who stopped doing shows 30 years ago when his biggest critic suffered a heart attack and died during one of his shows. When he decides to return to the stage, Dr. Matheson refuses to investigate him, while Buckley becomes obsessed with doing so. Buckley begins a personal investigation of Silver, and that is when things start to take a mysterious turn. It is almost a departure from the movie’s first half, because the pace becomes more frenetic, Buckley appears to become slightly unhinged and odd things start happening. I found within myself, a sense of urgency, an increase in adrenaline, wondering, was the movie going to take a scary turn? Was I going to regret watching it alone? It built that sense of foreboding. Gladly, it was not scary. It had the feel of “Signs” and “The Village,” where your pulse quickens with the drama, but when all is said and done you smile and say, Oh, that wasn’t really scary.
The personal stories behind Dr. Matheson and Buckley eventually start to unfold, and one comes to understand why Margaret Matheson is a skeptic and why she won’t investigate Simon Silver. As well, Buckley gives a theoretical answer as to why he investigates the paranormal, when asked by a student, Sally, played by Elizabeth Olsen that leads viewers to believe they understand his interest in the paranormal. However, his story unfolds more as the movie continues, culminating in such a way as to make one wonder if his earlier answer did indeed have anything to do with his paranormal quest. I won’t give any spoilers beyond that.
There is a point in the film where Dr. Matheson says, “The reason people believe in ghosts is the same as why they believe in haunted houses or tunnels of light. Because it would mean there was something after death. I only wish there were.” As Christians, we do believe there is something after death—eternal life. Many verses in the Bible point this out. John 11:25 says, “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (ESV). Then, of course, is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” But what must be pointed out is that there is an eternity not only for those whose faith and hope is in God, but for all. Acts 24:15 states, “Having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” This passage tell us of eternity, both for believers in Christ and non believers. Unfortunately, the unbeliever is separated from Christ.
Yet there must be no confusion about whether or not ghosts, communing with the dead and other paranormal activities should be explored. Leviticus 19:31 clearly states, “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God,” and Leviticus 20:6 says, “I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people” (NIV). Clearly, the Lord calls us to avoid mediums and psychics. So if you choose to watch this movie, do not experiment with the paranormal or become intrigued or interested by it. It is an area the Bible tells us is off limits.
Objectionable Content: Swearing seemed mild compared to many films nowadays, with God’s name in vain 3 times, Christ’s name in vain 1 time, the s-word 2 times, the f-word (8), d_mn (1). There is no nudity. There is a scene with an unmarried couple in bed, but nothing physical whatsoever. Violence is mild, with a fight scene in the men’s room. They do get bloodied up a bit, and some things get broken. As this film deals with the paranormal, there is a scene that can be offensive in the beginning. While researching odd happenings at a house, a woman conducts a séance. ***SPOILER*** I will give away this one bit of information. It is proved to be fake. ***END SPOILER*** I want to make sure anyone who has issue with such a scene realizes it does not get disturbing.
All in all, this film is entertaining, and I enjoyed the unexpected ending. It is a movie that could even warrant a second viewing, to double check scenes that should have made the ending obvious, which is why it is compared to “Sixth Sense.” It actually had a sad feel to it, in the end—a sense of disappointment. Again, I won’t elaborate, so I don’t ruin any surprise. In spite of the fact that this movie dealt with the supernatural, I feel comfortable recommending it to Christians and non Christians alike, because much of the movie sought to point out the logical ways in which psychics and mediums are frauds. Each person has to decide for themselves if they are comfortable with a film about the paranormal. To some, perhaps any film that touches on the subject may be one they wish to avoid.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.