That Was a Dumb Movie: Red Lights

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Red Lights.

From Wikipedia, Red Lights is a 2012 Spanish-American thriller film written and directed by Rodrigo Cortés and starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, and Robert De Niro. The plot focuses on a physicist, Tom Buckley (Murphy), and a university psychology professor, Margaret Matheson (Weaver), both of whom specialize in debunking supernatural phenomena, and their attempt at discrediting a renowned psychic, Simon Silver (De Niro), whose greatest critic mysteriously died thirty years prior.

Stories like this appeal to me. I like low key supernatural stuff. Stories where there is some kind of supernatural element, but nothing outrageous like most vampire stories have. Traditional ghost stories or hauntings aren’t bad either. I also like investigative stories, so tales of people investigating the supernatural is all the more appealing to me. I rather enjoyed the 2003 television series Miracles. ”Miracles” was about a guy that investigated supposed miracles in an attempt to prove whether or not deceased persons were worthy of being sainted in the Catholic church. Ultimately he disassociated with the church and joined a private organization that also investigated miracles, although they mostly investigated the evil side of the supernatural, so calling what he investigated “miracles” is kind of a misnomer. In any case it was a pretty cool show. ”Red Lights” had a similar setup, so I figured I’d like it. The main difference being that the characters in ”Red Lights” are coming from from a skeptical background, trying to disprove everything, whereas the characters in ”Miracles” were just assuming that there were in fact real cosmic powers of good an evil.

The characters in ”Red Lights” were mostly concerned with debunking supposed psychics. The first scene involved a psychic conducting a seance for a family, with Buckley and Matheson observing. Crazy stuff happens such as ghosts making noises and the table they are sitting at mysteriously rising from the floor. Following that scene, Buckley and Matheson are teaching a university class where they explain how all this phenomena was possible.

I liked where the film was going. I’ve seen supposed psychics in real life, and based on my experience I believe they are frauds. From my observations, those that subscribe to the reality of psychics are so willing to believe whatever they say that it’s almost pathetic how quickly they accept a psychic’s word as truth. The movie touched on this subject with Buckley claiming that his own mother had died because she accepted the healing touch of a psychic rather than going to a doctor. Mr. Silver, being a psychic healer, quickly became the nemesis of Buckley.

It was your standard direct to video storyline. The story was okay. The cinematography wasn’t particular artistic. The script didn’t really have anything original or provocative. It was what you’d expect for a late night cable channel movie. I’m actually hard pressed to say that it was a dumb movie, it was pretty much what it was supposed to be. The only really dumb parts were that Matheson randomly died near the end of the movie, with an explanation so weak that I honestly can’t say what it was, and also that it turned out that Buckley, the debunker himself, had supernatural powers. Which weakened the plot a little. I mean it was a direct to video plot, what do you expect? I didn’t expect much.

Except one thing… There is, in fact, something that truly made this movie ”dumb”. Robert De Niro was in this movie. ROBERT-FREAKING-De-NIRO was in this movie! Robert De Niro of ”The Godfather, Part II”, ”Taxi Driver”, and ”Raging Bull”. Robert De Niro who was in one of my personal favorite movies, ”Heat”. Robert De Niro who, in the same year as ”Red Lights”, was also nominated for best supporting actor for his role in ”Silver Linings Playbook”. Yes, Robert De Niro and his famous mole were in this movie. It blew my mind. I couldn’t understand why Robert De Niro was in ”this” movie. I mean I’ve seen tons of direct to video movies. Sigourney Weaver is somewhat of a big name, but not really that big if you’ve never seen ”Alien”, and so it isn’t uncommon for her to be in lesser known films. Cillian Murphy is even less famous, though he did get a little bit of spotlight in the ”Dark Knight” trilogy. But Robert De Niro! You don’t even have to have seen his films to know who he is. I haven’t seen half the films I listed above, but I’ve heard of Robert De Niro and I’ve heard of all these films.

I honestly can’t say that ”Red Lights” was intentionally a direct to video movie. It was probably in theaters, but I never heard of it. This type of film doesn’t do well in theaters. It’s the type of film you watch late at night. For me it randomly showed up on Netflix ”because” it’s the type of stuff I like to watch late at night. I might have watched it even if it didn’t star Robert De Niro. I mean I would have watched it and forgot about it, had that been the case. I wouldn’t be writing this post, that’s for sure. It’s a sad day when a man of greatness like Robert De Niro is a supporting character in a direct to video movie. Maybe Robert De Niro has been in a lot of unknown films like this and I just didn’t know about it. It breaks my heart to know it, though, and that’s why ”Red Lights” is a dumb movie.

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