Greetings once again. After the bad time I had watching Knife Edge, I felt I needed to give British films a chance to redeem itself. However, not with something I had already seen, but something new that would hopefully grab and hold my attention. Enter When The Lights Went Out. With The Conjuring soon to be released in theater, I figured a good haunted house movie would be fitting. So let’s not waste any time, and dive right in.
The year is 1974, and the Maynard family have moved into their new home in West Yorkshire. Len And Jenny are happy with their new situation, but their daughter Sally has a less than high opinion of the house. Sally’s opinion gets even lower when she begins to witness strange things happening, like hanging light fixtures swinging around for no good reason, a random noise on a night when she’s home alone, and sudden cold to the point of seeing her own breath. Naturally, the parents don’t believe her at first, but it’s not long before they too begin to see and experience things they can’t explain.
As time goes on, the supernatural activities get worse and worse, to the point of outright physical attacks beginning to take place. Meanwhile, the stress the Maynard’s are going through is slowly driving them apart. There are more arguments amongst them, and it’s clear that something needs to be done. Jenny and Sally get in touch with a pair of, effectively, ghostbusters, while Len “persuades” a local priest to cleanse the house. Will either of these options work in cleansing the house? You’ll have to watch and see for yourself.
For those who didn’t know, this movie was based on true events that happened to the Pritchard family. The matriarch of the family, Jean, is actually the aunt of WTLWO director Pat Holden, and Holden apparently wanted to make a movie about this event since childhood. It is apparently considered the most violent haunting in Europe’s history.
Interesting as that is, let’s get back to the movie itself. It was able to hold my attention throughout it’s running time. The acting was good all around, although the character Jenny wasn’t exactly my favorite. She was kind of a bitch now and then, and the first time she experienced activity in the house, she actually dismissed it and blamed her daughter Sally, when there was no way Sally could have done the things she saw. Another thing I was impressed with was the aesthetics throughout. Everything I saw in this movie, be it wardrobe, furniture, wallpaper, vehicles etc. were seventies to a fault. And I thought it was worth pointing out.
You’re not going to get a whole lot in originality though. Many of the things that happen you’ll most likely have seen in other haunting type movies. I mean, the main points of the movie have been done many times. Moving into a new house, spirit focusing on the child, parents don’t believe at first, a priest or supernatural expert tries to remove the spirit. It’s been done over and over. The trick is to find a way to keep the same old shit interesting every time, whether it be through good storytelling, convincing acting, characters you care about, or keeping up a good pace throughout. Not to mention the scary parts, which this movie does well in most parts. But there are a few scares that, for me at least, just fell through.
While When The Lights Went Out isn’t groundbreaking, it still did a fine job of entertaining me, and I recommend you check it out sometime. It was a huge step up from Knife Edge, and made me feel much better. Until next time, rest in peace.
Macabre Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars