‘Red Lights’ is an interesting psychological thriller up to a certain point; because it begins to get so complicated it is easy to loose interest. The subject is far-fetched, although it gives us both aspects of the matter one begins to win over the other without much explanation as to why. We can appreciate the fact that obviously director Rodrigo Cortés explored the angles of the subject of paranormal things and science, but it falls short at the end and leaves us with a sour taste.
In this film two physicists, doctor Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her apprentice Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) investigate in a scientific way what others believe to be paranormal phenomena. By doing this they’ve brought to light all the ghost hunters, mind readers and others, showing their dishonesty. But when the psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) returns after 30 years of retirement, even Matheson who isn’t afraid of anyone tells Buckley that Silver is dangerous and isn’t worth investigating. Buckley obsessively wants to investigate Silver without caring about the warnings; with Sally’s (Elizabeth Olsen) help they risk everything to find out what Silver is hiding.
Cortés told us in our interview that he wanted to explore how the human mind works, that we believe what we want to believe and this changes the perception of many things. The game of uncertainty between the audience and the characters in the screen as to what is really happening works and is what keeps the mystery of the film alive; since science and the paranormal face off to show us the reality of each character. It’s interesting to see how the scientist work, as well as how the tricksters work and how the believers reacts. This is the base and heart of the film.
Despite this the subject begins to be too complicated and certain things start to happen without any explanation. It’s had to believe in a movie that makes vague questions without exploring them more and that at the same time shows random scenes without any explanation. The movie doesn’t have a lot of action, except for one of the most violent scenes I’ve seen in a while, which makes it boring at times. But, the most disappointing thing of all is that in the culminating point although it gives us a revelation is isn’t satisfying. Obviously one theory wins over the other but we are not told why.
Without a doubt the three main actors: Weaver, Murphy and De Niro give us first class performances; specially Weaver, they take their characters to the point where the script allows them to. Olsen is left so much in the dark that she’s basically inexistent until she is needed. Cortés’ talent is easily seen, but perhaps if he let loose he would be able to give us a more complete movie.
According to Cortés he decided to make this film in English because he believes there’s a bigger paranormal market in the United States, I disagree since if it would have been in Spanish it would surely have a bigger audience in Latin America. The people that tend to believe in the paranormal or are curious about it can give this thriller a chance since it combines the old art of psychics with the modern world of science; everyone else stay away. I warn those that decide to watch it to keep their expectations low.