Professional sceptics Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy go about their business of exposing fake paranormal phenomena in twisty psychological/supernatural thriller Red Lights, debunking hoax séances, bogus faith healers, fraudulent mediums and the like with brisk aplomb.
Then legendary blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) reappears in public after a 30-year absence, knocking the pair’s mission off course. Weaver’s veteran university professor, Dr Margaret Matheson, still baring the scars of a traumatic past encounter with Silver, wants to leave him well alone. Her younger colleague, Murphy’s Tom Buckley, can’t resist the challenge, but the more obsessively he pursues his target the more he is beset by uncanny events.
Director Rodrigo Cortés’s last film, 2010’s Buried, wrung clammy, claustrophobic suspense from the simple expediency of sticking Ryan Reynolds in an underground box. Slickly edited and eerily atmospheric, his new film shows he can work on a bigger stage. But he doesn’t get everything right. ‘Red lights’ is the term Matheson gives to the tell-tale signs that give the fake psychic away: ‘Discordant notes; things that shouldn’t be there.’ As a filmmaker, Cortes lets slip a few discordant notes of his own, notably during the overwrought – and pointlessly over-explained – finale, but for the most part Red Lights proves that his cinematic sleight of hand is spookily good.
On general release from Friday 15th June.
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