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“Red Lights” Flickers but Entertains

Uniting the talents of Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy and relative newbie Elizabeth Olsen, the paranormal thriller, “Red Lights” addresses ghost whispering, faith healing and various psychic phenomena from a debunker’s standpoint.

Weaver and Murphy play paranormal researchers who seek to detect “red lights,” the mind games behind staged supernatural events. Enter De Niro, as blind psychic Simon, who emerges out of retirement and prepares to debunk the debunkers. Try as they may, Weaver and Murphy can’t seem to prove their case—even with the help of their assistant Olsen, who plays a psychically gifted student.

The 119-minute Red Lights premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The uneven script and pretzel plot twists left some audience members a bit confused, producing laughs where none were intended, followed by frightful, “cover your eyes with the popcorn tub”  scenes. As some have suggested, these moments are needed to make the film entertaining, as there are long, stem-winder monologues and square-pegs story niblets that seem to fit nowhere.

As for the performances, Murphy stops just short of burying himself in the role of the obsessed paranormal investigator. Weaver delivers her role with the usual tech-speak authority, and De Niro is convincing as the supernatural sage of the stage. Regrettably, Olsen’s research assistant is more prop than performer, and one wishes they would have drawn her out.

Millennium Entertainment will release Red Lights on July 13th.