On 1.21.12 I reviewed Rodrigo Cortez‘s Red Lights (Millenium, 7.13) at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s about a pair of investigators, Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), who specialize in debunking bogus paranormal claims. Weaver is persuaded there’s no such animal as a ghost or messages from the after-life or anything along those lines — it’s all about theatre and seducing the gullible.

“The story gradually builds into an epic confrontation between the Weaver forces and Simon Silver (Robert DeNiro), perhaps the greatest paranormal performer or hoodwinker of all time…or is he?

“The first 40 minutes are devoted to exploring Weaver’s literal and rational-minded reasons for being a skeptic, and a little about her own personal background involving a comatose son. And then something happens that I shouldn’t divulge, but when that thing happens the tone set by Weaver’s rationality is thrown out the window and the film devolves into a kind of emotional madhouse with ‘boo!’ jolts thrown in from time to time, plus a lot of raging emotion and red herrings that don’t lead anywhere and plot threads that aren’t developed and/or are abandoned.

“It just goes nuts, this film. A kind of ComicCon idiot gene takes over. I was saying to myself, ‘What happened here? This thing was smart, absorbing and moving along pretty good fora while and then wham…a cheesy cheap-shock virus invaded and it went south.'”