This has been a great year for movies.  From Captain America to Star Trek to The BFG, I have spent a lot of time and money at the theaters.  And it’s only getting better.  I’m especially excited about the horror movies coming out, which is nice when my son is in town.  We have a custom of going to see whatever horror movie is in theaters (if there is one).  It just so happened that Lights Out came out very recently so we jumped at the opportunity.

I remember seeing the trailer earlier this year.  My wife said, “hell no,” and I brought up that it looked a lot like a video short from a few years ago where a ghost/monster appeared when the lights were shut off and disappeared when the lights were turned on.

My wife reiterated, “hell no!”  I was pretty excited.

THE MOVIELights Out (2016)

I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend this movie.  Lights Out didn’t waste any time jumping into old-school scare tactics (without relying on gore) and did not let go until the end credits were rolling.  I even said, “Oh, damn,” a couple of times out loud.

I watched the trailer again to make sure there are no spoilers below.

The premise:  We start the movie with Esther (Lotta Losten, who starred in the original video short) flipping on and off the lights in an already disturbing mannequin warehouse, revealing the twisted silhouette of a ghost/monster in the dark.  Esther immediately lets her boss, Paul (Billy Burke), know that there is something in the building.  Of course Paul is busy dealing with his mentally ill wife, Sophie (Maria Bello), so he dismisses Esther.  This doesn’t end well for Paul.

Flash forward a month or two after Paul’s death.  Sophie is off her meds again and her special friend Dianna, the ghost/monster, is haunting Sophie’s house, terrorizing her young son, Martin (Gabriel Bateman).  Martin, if you can imagine, is not sleeping well and Child Protective Services gets called in.  The only member of the family they can get hold of is Martin’s adult half-sister, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer).  The two soon find out that Dianna is not bound to Sophie’s house… any dark place will do.

It’s a fight for their lives as they uncover family secrets that must come out of the shadows.

This movie really did have just about anything today’s horror movie-goer could ask for.  We had a modern family dynamic, a theme of family values and unity, and a strong and independent protagonist.  From a story-teller view, I loved the relationship between Rebecca and her boyfriend, Bret (Alexander DiPersia), which was brilliant and more realistically complex than expected.  Best of all, we had an original, creepy, well thought-out villain that taps into a primal fear shared amongst most of the people on Earth.  Who hasn’t been scared of the dark at some point in their life?

I came across some reviews saying that Lights Out is a blatant dig on the mentally ill.  To that I suggest the various critics watch any scary movie since 1920.  The mentally disturbed killer has been a hallmark of the horror genre since people started telling scary stories around campfires.  I wonder if critics dismissed Phantom of the Opera or House of Wax or Psycho as just making fun of the mentally ill.

In 2013, director David Sandberg made that really creepy video short (link above) entitled Lights Out.  With a little perseverance, Sandberg was able to join forces with producer James Wan (The Conjuring) and writer Eric Heisserer (I guess I’ll forgive him for writing the 2010 version of A Nightmare on Elm Street) to turn his 2:41 minute video into a feature film.  A successful feature film by my standards.

See this movie… with the lights off.

THE WINE:  Chateau La Paws Red Wine Blend

Red Blend (no year on bottle) (California)

About $13.00 a bottle. For our Ghost Night meal, rolled out the grill and BBQed some burgers.  Since I’m a foodie that isn’t about to have a bottle of wine with a regular burger (okay, I probably would), we had burgers mixed with cheddar and bacon and some mixed with black pepper and bleu cheese, topped with pepper jack.  For a side, we had garlic and black pepper tots.  Byron made some weird “fancy sauce” that was comprised of BBQ sauce, mayo, and God-knows-what-else… which resulted in a light brown goo that tasted like BBQ sauce.  He swears by it, but we respectfully declined.

The classic combination with red meat is always going to be a red wine.  Since these were burgers with blue cheese, black pepper spice and potatoes, a medium bodied red was the way to go rather than a heavier Cabernet or Zinfandel.  This wine had a pronounced scent of dark cherry from the moment it was opened.  To go with the cherry, it also had red berry flavors like raspberry up front and lingering notes of vanilla on the back end.  Perfect for the evening.

As many of you know, I am an animal lover.  I was happy to buy this bottle because the winery (as the name suggests) supports No Kill Shelters around the country.  Visit to learn more.