Thursday 21 September 2017

Sigourney lights up psychic thriller

Paul Whitington

red lights

(15A, general release, 113 minutes)

Director: Rodrigo Cortés Stars: Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen

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Spanish writer/director Rodrigo Cortés scored a considerable critical hit with his last feature, Buried, a clever thriller that managed to make the story of a man trapped underground in a box seem interesting.

In Red Lights, Cortés has a broader canvas to work with, and brings elements of comedy and romance to bear on this fairly straight supernatural thriller.

Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy are Margaret Matheson and Tom Buckley, two physics professors who head a university department entirely devoted to the study of paranormal activity.

They tour America investigating reports of ghost sightings, poltergeists and moving furniture, but up till now all have turned out to be bogus.

Matheson has devoted her life to exposing fakes, but Tom is surprised when she is reluctant to take on a famous psychic called Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), who has emerged from retirement to play to sellout crowds.

Tom then becomes obsessed with exposing Silver, but the closer he gets, the more he begins to suspect that this particular psychic may not be a fake after all.

Red Lights' ominous and rather gloomy atmosphere is nicely established by Cortés, who builds his story slowly and skillfully.

Weaver is wonderful as the witheringly sceptical academic Matheson, while Elizabeth Olsen has a nice cameo as a young student who becomes infatuated with Tom.

Murphy's performance becomes a little too histrionic late on, perhaps as a consequence of playing scenes opposite De Niro, who only extends himself here during a pivotal speech.

And the climax of Red Lights doesn't quite deliver on the promise of its stylish opening.

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