'Red Lights': Paranormal sleuths meet worst nightmare
A movie review of "Red Lights," a spooky chiller about a pair of skeptical scientists (Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy) who seek to expose a charismatic psychic (Robert De Niro) as a fake, only to find their peace of mind shattered by a series of ominous, unexplained events.
Special to The Seattle Times
'Red Lights,' with Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones, Elizabeth Olsen. Written and directed by Rodrigo Cortés. 113 minutes. Rated R for language and some violence. Meridian.
"The X-Files" is long gone. Hail and farewell. But its spirit lives on in "Red Lights." Hail, hail.
Mulder and Scully would have instantly recognized Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and physicist Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) as kindred spirits, fellow skeptics and avid searchers for the truth behind things that go bump in the night and other odd occurrences of a paranormal nature.
In writer-director Rodrigo Cortés' spooky chiller, Matheson and Buckley are a pair of professional debunkers who use psychological insights (her specialty) and high-tech instruments (his bailiwick) to unmask fraudulent psychics, faith healers and other charlatans. In their investigations, they look for "red lights," telltale giveaways to the fakery employed by their quarry.
But when they cross paths, and swords, with an enigmatic, charismatic blind psychic named Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), nightmarish visions that invade their sleep and unexplained explosions that wreck their equipment shake their faith in their scientific methodology. This guy may be for real, and seems really, really dangerous.
Weaver is forbiddingly grim and focused as Matheson, and Murphy is the personification of haunted unease as her colleague. De Niro, in one of his most effective performances in years, is at once diabolical and silken in manner as Silver. His character may be blind, but he gives the impression of being able to see into the souls of his adversaries.
Cortés ("Buried") and director of photography Xavi Giménez invest the picture with a mournful, subterranean feel with a visual palette that favors gloomy grays and somber greens.
Cortés does an excellent job slowly ramping up the fear factor as his protagonists feel their peace of mind being undermined by increasingly ominous occurrences that are seemingly orchestrated by Silver.
Sweaty palms are the order of the day with this picture.
Soren Andersen: email@example.com