It’s something we’ve all experienced. A jolt of terror when you turn out the lights. Well filmmaker David F. Sandberg has taken his popular short film with that concept and, with the help of producer James Wan, made it into what looks like a terrifying feature. Here’s the trailer for Lights Out.
Wan, along with Sandberg, star Maria Bello and others, premiered the film’s trailer (along with a new one for Wan’s latest The Conjuring 2) at WonderCon in Los Angeles on Saturday. “We think we’ve cooked up a cool little movie,” Wan said on the panel. Wan produced the film with Lawrence Grey, who first watched the short in his office with the lights on and brought it to Wan and the studio’s attention. He said what interested him in adapting it is that a fear of the dark is something we’ve all experienced. “We’ve all had that moment where we see something out of the corner of the eye,” he said. “We hope its harmless but it may not be.”
They asked Sandberg, who made the short film with his wife in their apartment, to come to Hollywood and make the feature as his directorial debut. He admits it was scary to walk into the set with so much power, but Wan said horror is the rare genre where that’s not just OK, it’s encouraged.
“Horror is the only genre that has a strong built in audience,” Wan said. Because of that he feels, “You can take chances in horror which you cant in other genres. New young filmmakers are part of that.”
The short was only two and a half minutes, so Sandberg had to develop the concept of a creature appearing when the lights turn off and give it a story. The story they came up with was described as a “family drama” multiple times. But there’s one twist that really stands out.
In most horror movies, Sandberg explained, it’s the kid who has the imaginary friend. And that imaginary friend is the reason for all the terror. Not so in Lights Out.
“We thought it would be more scary if the parent has the invisible friend,” he said. “Cause as a kid what are you going to do? You are depending on your parent. [The idea] started there and then developed from there.”
Maria Bello plays the mother with the imaginary friend, and had a demand of the audience when they finally see the film on July 21. When you see the film, Bello wants you to ask one question “What is Diana?”