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Modern horror movies offer few surprises and even fewer classics, as the genre has become stale and predictable with age. While Lights Out is hardly revolutionary, it’s a competent thriller with a smart enough story to be engaging. The story of a family, haunted by a demon of the past, does a good job at establishing a story of loss and torment, giving a dramatic story to accompany the horror element.

While there’s little inventiveness in the story, the dramatic themes about family are shown a surprising amount of depth. The performances, particularly Terrsa Palmer, sell some of the more ridiculous elements of the film even when the script cannot. It’s generic in many ways, with characters making more than a few moronic decisions, but it’s ultimately a competently contained and effectively thrilling adventure. Grade: B-