I didn’t know anything about this movie other than it’s cast and that it was about ESP and stuff like that. But I just had to get it and I’m glad I did. Red Lights is a 2012 Spanish-American thriller film, written and directed by Rodrigo Cortés, and starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Toby Jones, Elizabeth Olsen, Joely Richardson and Leonardo Sbaraglia. Sbaraglia is the only actor I did not know about but he stood out during his brief two appearances on the screen.
The movie is about a university professor and her assistant, who is also a promising physicist in his own right, who specialize in debunking supernatural phenomena. They visit various places where invited and check for natural causes which may be behind the events that occur. The beginning of the movie is about establishing this nature of the two – Prof. Margaret Matheson and her assistant Tom Buckley who investigate cases involving paranormal activity and pulling the rug out from under frauds. They visit a house where paranormal activity is supposed to take place and also an African-American family who have an autistic child who only starts drawing when he listens to deafening death metal. All this and they conduct normal classes at the university too.
Tom gets excited when the news channels highlight the return of a world renowned psychic – Simon Silver – a blind man who wowed the world with his feats and “healings” until 30 years ago. The reason he stopped and retired from the limelight is due to the sudden death of his biggest critic and who was investigating Silver’s work. This supposedly left a long lasting effect on Silver but now he is back to sold out shows in theatres and halls in America. Matheson refuses to cooperate with Buckley’s insistent call to undertake another investigation of Silver, warning Buckley against such an undertaking due to her previous experience with the psychic. Matheson did however appear on a talk show which included a panel mostly pro-Silver and which included Silver’s assistant and now lover Monica Handsen. When Handsen touches on a very personal part of Matheson’s life, the latter leaves the show getting upset. Buckley is now adamant to investigate Silver when he is hit by the sudden death of Matheson from a chronic vascular condition at the same time that one of Silver’s re-introductory performances takes place.
Buckley tries to find proof for the purpose of exposing the popular psychic as a fraud. During Buckley’s efforts to reveal Silver’s large-scale trickery, a series of inexplicable events occur—electronic devices explode in the hidden room where he set up to try and trace radio signals, dead birds appear out of nowhere and break through glass and falls on him and Buckley’s laboratory is vandalized. Buckley’s paranoia intensifies, as he believes Silver is behind these incidents. He loses his clam demenour and takes his girlfriend, a student at the university, back to her place while he continues to spy on Silver’s organization. Silver agrees to participate in an investigation proposed by an academic from the same university that Matheson was employed by, and Buckley bullies his way in ad joins the observation team for the tests. Towards the end of the film, Buckley’s assistants, including his girlfriend, find out how the physic does it – his watch is rigged plus Silver is only pretending to be blind!
At the end, Buckley, who is beaten up by one of Silver’s henchmen, exposes Silver’s fraud in a hall filled with people. The world sees that Silver is not blind. As he leaves the hall and walks out in the rain, he narrates to us that he actually possesses paranormal abilities and has been responsible for the inexplicable incidents that have occurred during his investigation of Silver. Buckley explains a realization in which he arrives at an understanding that his decision to work with Matheson, despite the possibility of loftier career opportunities as a physicist, was the result of an unconscious attempt to seek out others like himself; the revelation clarifies that Buckley’s choices were made in spite of his conscious denial of the existence of paranormal activity (such denial is touched on earlier in the film, whereby the character claims that he chose this career because his mother was delayed from seeking critical medical treatment due to advice from a fraud psychic).
Good twist at the end kind of like 6th Sense although the movie isn’t quite that grade. I do think it is a good film though and everyone acting does a bang up job. 8 out of 10!