British chiller ‘When the Lights Went Out’ follows the ordeal faced by the working-class Maynard family after they move into their new, seemingly “dream” home in 1970s Yorkshire. Barely have they had a chance to settle in before things start going awry – taps turn on at random, doors slam shut without any draught, objects break to pieces seemingly of their own accord. As the bizarre and terrifying occurrences quickly begin to escalate and become more violent in nature, the Maynards are forced to confront the terrible truth – that their home is occupied by a poltergeist.
Faced with this terrifying predicament, the family is driven to seek help from both mediums and priests as they attempt to rid their home of this apparently malignant presence. But as they will find out, a poltergeist is no easy thing to get rid of.
‘When The Lights Went Out’ comes from writer/director Pat Holden who, interestingly enough, has a personal connection to supposedly true story on which his film is based – the house at which the poltergeist haunting occurred belonged to his aunt, and his mother was one of those affected by the events.
‘When the Lights Went Out’ is for the most part a highly engaging tale of the supernatural which should find favour with audiences who yearn for traditional chills. The film creaks and bangs in all the right places (but never ad nauseum) which is surely one of the main measurements of success for this kind of movie. However it should be noted that the decidedly television drama feel of the production might not quite be to the tastes of those more comfortable with bigger budget affairs such as ‘The Woman in Black’.
Young Natasha Connor is credible as Sally Maynard, the unfortunate girl who receives the majority of the poltergeist’s nefarious attentions. Steven Waddington and Kate Ashfield are similarly convincing, if a little mismatched, as the parents. The only place in which ‘When the Lights Went Out’ falls down is in the script department, as the rather clunky dialogue in places risks making the whole affair come across as a bit farcical. Ill-advised too is the decision to throw in touches of humour in parts of the movie where the focus really should be on ratcheting up the tension so that the scares pay off fully.
Nevertheless, ‘When the Lights Went Out’ is an effective enough little supernatural flick that should make most ghost skeptics think twice about spending the night in a haunted house anytime soon!