Red Lights, is a psychological thriller about two paranormal investigators (Murphy and Weaver), who discredit and expose the fraudulent and fake claims of the supernatural. Using scientific method, occum’s razor, and just plain common sense. Which is entirely summed up within the first ten minutes of the film where they investigate a seance. But soon, an old rival comes out of retirement. Simon Silver (De Niro), a rather popular psychic, is giving a performance in public (for the first time in years). While Buckley wants to investigate Silver immediately, Margaret says no because “He is dangerous”. Is he another fraud, or is the true much stranger than that?
Something right off the bat that this film does right is how it portrays the supernatural. Much like the original 1976 version of The Omen, Red Lights shows anything of that nature with a plausible or at the very least a realistic explanation. It probably helps a great deal that the character of Margaret Matheson, a great performance by Weaver, is clearly of an atheistic nature and always is used to exposing the unknown in a scientific light. Buckley (Murphy), even though he is clearly the film’s protagonist, his beliefs are not as clear as the audience would assume.
De Niro is terrific as Silver, in part, because even though he is the de facto villain of the film, his few scenes really have a unique “aura” about it. Even though the portrayal of the supernatural is realistic, the very presence of De Niro creates a debt in both the characters and the audience as to the true nature of Silver, and what the main character throughout the film have been dismissing as fake.
At this movie’s core is the on going theme of belief. Who do you believe? is the real question that this movie presents. And with great acting, good directing, and astonishing writing, Red Lights really captures the nature and terror of the unknown in much of the same light as the Val Lewton horror films of the 1940s.
A fine example Thriller and Neo-Noir,
Cillian Murphy….Tom Buckley
Robert De Niro ……Simon Silver
Sigourney Weaver…..Margaret Matheson
Joely Richardson……..Monica Handsen
Elizabeth Olsen….Sally Owen