The latest Lights Out trailer kills almost twenty seconds before it gets to the action. Obviously not an insufferable amount of time, but for comparison’s sake, here’s the trailer to the 1963 version of The Haunting, and 1980’s The Changeling. Two classic, patient haunted house stories from a bygone era where people generally had longer attention spans, and they still waste no time getting right to the point in their trailers. Twenty seconds of “goodbye, lover” action in a horror trailer is like twenty seconds of dead air on the radio, it just shouldn’t be.
The trailer also features an “ominous,” spare cover of part of a pop song, something I’ve criticized before, and will continue to criticize until it dies the death that it deserves. This breathy, whispered take on Buffalo Springfield’s “For What it’s Worth” isn’t clever or ironic or atmospheric or good enough to justify its existence, much less its usage. It’s just a distraction.
What remains of the trailer is serviceable. The “lights out” ghost gimmick is milked for all that it’s worth, and it’s relatively effective, as it was in the short film that the movie is based on. Some of the praise heaped on the film in the pull quotes is a little much. You’d think this was the first movie to explicitly focus on ghosts or monsters attacking when the lights go out. A) fear of the dark is a primal fear that’s pretty core to the essence of horror fiction, and B) I can think of at least three similar films off the top of my head from without even having to think back to the 20th century.
I’m hoping that Lights Out turns out to be every bit as good as the pull quotes claim, and I’m happy for director David F. Sandberg’s success. But if the movie is indeed that good, it deserves better than this trailer delivers.
Lights Out comes to theaters on July 22nd.