I watched the movie Red Lights last night on Netflix. The first part of the movie was strikingly familiar: it practically stole the life story of James Randi. There was the Peter Popoff exposé, the psychic surgery stunts, the usual whirl of frauds and fanatics, all under different names with different details, but the same general stories about exposing flim-flam. And then it had a marvelous cast: Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy. The whole movie is following a good ol’ skeptical trajectory…and then, the ending. Oh, jebus, I have never seen a movie so thoroughly implode as this one did with that ending.
Stop here. Don’t read further, unless you want to know how it ends, because I’m going to give it all away. Completely. This isn’t just a spoiler, it is full disclosure.
After building up the skeptical side of the story, and after the climactic reveal that shows how DeNiro, the psychic, was faking everything, the movie pulls a complete Reverse Scooby Doo. There is an overly dramatic confrontation in a theater in which the skeptical psychic investigator, Murphy, makes lights explode and electronics fail because he, the investigator, was the one who actually had psychic powers. As he explains in a lame final voiceover, he was in this business to look for people of his own kind.
It was a marvel. The whole movie just threw itself away in the final two minutes. And if only I’d checked a few reviews first, I wouldn’t have wasted my time on a movie that had no respect for itself.