Parents' Guide to

Lights Out

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Exceptionally simple, smart, scary monster movie.

Movie PG-13 2016 81 minutes
Lights Out Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 12 parent reviews

age 12+

A mediocre horror story develops just enough to be watchable and is just scary enough to entertain.

Lights Out relies mostly on jumpscares to frighten but is held together by a clear and cohesive story. A semi-complex backstory is revealed, but explained thoroughly, so most children of at least twelve or thirteen should be able to follow. That story, coupled with the jumpscares, keeps the movie above monotonous drivel. The character development rises just above completely flat, and very little can be said of cinematography beyond utilizing lighting as a plot device. Be aware that some complex topics are intertwined with the story such as mental health, abandonment, estranged family member situations, and suicide. A premarital relationship is a major component of two of the main characters' situation which is pushed on the viewer in a fairly drawn out scene about the woman not allowing the man to stay at her residence for the evening after an implied sexual encounter. It acts as one of the few character development points for said characters indicating the woman's avoidance of a committed relationship. Spoiler alert: suicide is not only present but acts as the climax to the main story of the film when a woman is shown brandishing a gun before turning it on herself and discharging it while it is against the side of her head, however no gory visuals are present and the lack of lighting conceals details in the scene. That occurrence of suicide, infrequent swearing (mostly the "s word"), non-traditional relationships, kissing, hinted at sexual activity, and fairly limited gore (quick visuals of disfigured corpses) are the mature instances to keep in mind with this movie.
age 12+

Creepy and amazing movie

It really scares you but without all the gore in other horror movies.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (12 ):
Kids say (89 ):

This simple but effective horror movie seems to do everything exactly right. It's smart, clever, and very scary, and it doesn't bother with any of the lazy, cynical stuff associated with the horror genre today. Written and directed by David F. Sandberg -- making his feature debut after some spooky short films -- and co-written by veteran horror screenwriter Eric Heisserer, Lights Out starts by creating a great new movie monster. They establish clear rules for their Diana and then run with every conceivable variation on their idea; the movie is full of unexpected surprises.

Helped by strong performances, especially from standouts Palmer and Bello, the characters are sharply drawn and sympathetic. They also behave logically -- and even when they do go into the dark, scary basement, it's only to look for the fuse box. The movie even avoids the usual, annoying, fake "look out for the sequel" ending. It's the rare horror movie that shows its audience respect and delivers a quality tricky treat.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate