Those dreaded words, ‘Based on a true story…’
With regards to horror films, firstly you never know whether this is for effect or not, and secondly whether the film itself will be even half decent.
It’s based on the haunting of a house in the small town of Pontefract in West Yorkshire in the 1970’s. The Maynard family, consisting of father and mother and daughter Sally having recently moved into what seems like a normal detached house on a normal estate.
It overlooks some creepy woods, but surely there is nothing to worry… Or is there?
The setting of the story does owe some of its scares to the Paranormal Activity template of luring the viewer into a false sense of security before unleashing a jump scare or three.
The scares themselves kick in almost immediately, as the poltergeist starts to toy with Sally, thus making her parents think she’s crazy. This is until the scares are shared around the family.
With the film being set in the 70’s we also have the sensationalism of getting the press involved in a ghost story, for which the reporter thinks nothing of until he gets a punch for his troubles, and not from any of the family.
So you have a vengeful spirit, who you gonna call? That’s right, the town’s very own exorcist, this is obviously before the time of the classic Friedkin film and thus it is played very straight up and serious.
There are also some clever touches with Director Pat Holden playing homage to the era, with the spirit teasing the family with Sally’s slinky and buckaroo toys.
The poltergeist sees Sally as being the weak link (being the youngest), so it goes on to torment the life out of her before revealing its dark intentions.
This spirit isn’t Casper, and during the rip roaring finale it finally shows its cards and goes for the kill, literally.
The pacing of the film is superb, with scares aplenty but also enough story scattered throughout so you can really sympathise and feel the fear of the family who are put in this crazy situation.
When The Lights Went Out proves that age old saying that you can’t beat a good scare.