'Red Lights' is the latest film from Spanish film-maker Rodrigo Cortes, who in 2010 made his debut, the very effective, claustrophobic thriller 'Buried' starring Ryan Reynold's. Were that film succeeded in it's simplicity, his latest, 'Red Lights' has a much more ambitious story to tell. The plot of 'Red Lights' is as follows:
Two paranormal investigators played by Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy who work to find every fraud in the business who claims to posses paranormal abilities, which in their experience is every person they've ever investigated. That is until Simon Sliver a world renowned psychic comes back after a thirty year absence and challenges the two investigators in ways they didn't think possible.
'Red Lights' has an intriguing premise, that much is undeniable, unfortunately that's all it has going for it in it's 1hr and 49min running time. In 'Buried' the directors previous film, he was limited by both time and money which led to him crafting a bare-bones story that managed to thrill in unexpected ways. Here, he faces no such budget or time issues but bigger problems manage to arise, the biggest problem of all being while the film sets out to be a thriller with horror elements, it manages to completely fail to either thrill or scare in the entirety of it's running time.
Like 'The Last Exorcism', a surprisingly interesting horror film which came out the year before, the film works best when it's about the two paranormal investigators just doing their job, finding the fraudsters and exposing them for who they are, unfortunately this segment of the film, the most low-key in comparison to the rest only lasts for the first 25 minutes of the film. After that the film just keeps cranking up the craziness until we get to it's absolute mess of a final act. Cortes shows a distinct lack of control in the final third, it feels like he has ran out of ideas by this point so he tries to counter-act this by giving the audience a tacked on feeling ending which at the same time feels over-the-top and anti-climatic.
The performances in the film are fine for the most part, Weaver and Murphy are consistently solid, but it's De Niro who lets down on the acting front. His performance is way to hammy, to ever be successfully intimidated by this "psychic".
Overall 'Red Lights' fails to accomplish what it sets out to achieve, though it does start off strongly the ridiculous final act serves to undo all the good work which came before it.