Lights Out

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Lights Out Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Exceptionally simple, smart, scary monster movie.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 81 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 65 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid all the scary/horror content, the movie does reward those who stick by their loved ones and face grave danger in order to protect them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although Rebecca is flawed and rebellious and is shown to be a somewhat unfit guardian for her younger brother, she's also very brave and loving and protective of him.


Lots of scary, shocking moments. Characters are killed, and blood is spilled. Guns are fired; suicide by gunshot. A bloody leg. A mangled corpse. Character thrown across a room and hits her head on furniture. Character thrown from height. Characters argue.


A man and a woman have a suggested sexual relationship; they're seen being comfortable together, lying in bed (no nudity), joking about showering together, etc. Kissing shown. Some slightly suggestive posters.


A use of "f--k," and uses of "s--t." Plus "oh God" as an exclamation.


Apple FaceTime is used.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A bong is shown. Bottles of prescription pills are shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lights Out is a horror movie about a ghost/monster that only appears in darkness. It's a surprisingly simple, effective idea that works well. Expect strong horror violence; in addition to scary stuff and shocking jump-scare moments, there's murder and death, bloody wounds, suicide, guns fired, brutally attacks, arguments, and unsettling themes. A young couple has a suggested sexual relationship, with some spoken references, but only kissing is shown. Language is infrequent but includes a use of "f--k" and some uses of "s--t." A bong is shown in one shot, suggesting that a character smokes pot.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygia123 April 7, 2019

Creepy and amazing movie

It really scares you but without all the gore in other horror movies.
Parent of a 8, 13, and 16-year-old Written byFernando V. November 8, 2017

Lights Out Review

Lights Out is based on a shortfilm by David F Sandberg who directed this film as well. This film was fine but I expected it to be way better. Was not as scary a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKurtB October 17, 2018

Shallow storyline, violent images.

This movie's storyline/plot isn't very good, and there are many graphic horror images that would make most preteens/young teens scared. I would only l... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 30, 2016


Lights Out was a pretty good movie. It had a lot of jump scares, but they weren't that scary, just loud. The scariest part was probably seeing Diana (the g... Continue reading

What's the story?

A man (Billy Burke), concerned about the well-being of his sick wife, Sophie (Maria Bello), and scared son, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), is attacked and killed by a terrifying creature that only seems to exist in the dark with the LIGHTS OUT. At home, young Martin is also terrorized by the creature and calls his rebellious older half-sister, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), for help. Accompanied by her kind, patient boyfriend Bret (Alexander DiPersia), Rebecca learns that the creature was once a woman called Diana, who had a brutal childhood and a chronic sensitivity to light. She also learns that Diana was once Sophie's friend and that Sophie may have something to do with Diana's reign of terror. Can Sophie's kids stay in the light long enough to defeat the monster?

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Lights Out's violence. How does it make you feel? How does it accomplish that? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Is the movie scary? What's scary about it? Why is it sometimes fun to be scared?

  • Is Rebecca a role model? What are her flaws? What are her strengths? Does she come through for those who need her?

  • What does it mean to be a monster? Why do you think Diana does the things she does? Do you feel sorry for her?

  • What's the friendship like between Diana and Sophie? Have you ever had an unusual friendship?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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