You can tell Cortés did a good deal of research into actual psychic phenomena and how hucksters and frauds use tricks to get money out of unwitting suckers, but none of that information is used to create a thriller that's particularly investing. That's not to say "Red Lights" is a horrible movie but the movie's mainly watchable due to Sigourney Weaver's character and once she leaves the picture, it's all Cillian Murphy's show and that's where it really goes downhill quickly with him delivering an incredibly overwrought performance that's hard to take seriously.
This is also when thing start spiraling downwards into "what the f*ck is going on?" territory as things start happening that don't make a lot of sense, pointing to Silver being the real thing despite Tom's insistence he's a fake. (This stuff is later explained via the movie's idiotic twist, which inevitably makes the whole movie that much more aggravating.)
Playing Silver does not require much from De Niro who coasts through a performance that falls somewhere between Louis Cyphre in "Angel Heart" and his more comedic roles, not a particularly memorable role but he's head and shoulders more entertaining then watching Murphy careening around. Elizabeth Olsen's role as Tom's student who helps him in his investigation is such a nothing role that it could be played by any actress rather than being wasted on a solid actor like Olsen.
Even worse, Cortés squanders any possibilities of making Red Lights a scary movie, instead going for the cheapest scares possible - a bird flying into a window for instance - and further evidence of the lazy filmmaking can be found in the repeated use of news broadcasts and reporters to break up the exposition. By then, it's too late because we've already been driven to boredom by all the talking.
As much as director Brian De Palma has proven himself to be a devout Hitchcock "follower" with his notorious homages, Cortes goes one better (or worse) by actually ripping off De Palma's "Carrie" for the grand climax before delivering a ridiculous twist from out of left field that not even M. Night Shyamalan would appreciate. By then, the movie has probably already lost you, since it loses a lot without Weaver in the mix.
Having a premise with serious potential and such a high-caliber cast, there's really no excuse for "Red Lights" to be such a wasted opportunity. Instead of creating a definitive thriller based around psychic phenomena, Cortés delivers a bland and obvious movie that loses its way long before it kills any good will with its ridiculous twist ending.
Rating: 5 out of 10