The paranormal world has taken over Hollywood ever since the explosive success of 2007’s Paranormal Activity, but Red Lights breathes a breath of fresh air into an otherwise overwhelming genre.  The cheap scares and the shaky cameras aren’t going out of style fast enough, and luckily for the viewers, Red Lights stays away from it entirely. Hallelujah.  No more headaches in the theater.

Director Rodrigo Cortés is still relatively new to the scene, but if Red Lights is any indication, he’s got a good career ahead of him. The direction, the acting, the writing and the cinematography are all equally solid, which is a task especially tough to pull off in the horror/thriller genre. There’s almost always at least a handful of cheesy lines in horror movies that the audience scoffs at or thinks, “Why the hell would he go into that dark room alone?” Rest assured, that doesn’t happen here.

Red Lights tells us the story of psychologist Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) as they investigate and debunk paranormal activity in the area. Not only do they investigate, but they always teach their findings to their university classes and give scientific explanations on why it’s not paranormal. However, things get complicated when renowned psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) resurfaces thirty years after his last public performance, and Tom decides to launch a new investigation that could make him question everything he believes (or more appropriately, what he doesn’t believe.)

Murphy gives a strong leading performance as the paranormal skeptic, and there’s never a dull moment when he’s on screen. The chemistry he has with the other cast members is solid and believable all around the board. It’s hard to be on screen with Weaver and De Niro and not get overshadowed, but Murphy completely holds his own and still comes out on top. Once things start spiraling, his intensity grows, which in turn, leaves you on the edge of your seat.

Rounding out the supporting cast is Toby Jones, Elizabeth Olsen, and Joely Richardson with equally believable performances despite less overall screen time.  Jones is the charismatic doctor that helps with the scientific investigation against Simon, Olsen is the university student that strikes up an endearing relationship with Tom, and Richardson is the loyal and cold assistant to Simon.

The real surprising factor for Red Lights is the dramatic aspect. It’s more than just a typical psychological thriller, and be warned, you might even start to tear up during the sadder moments. Even with the drama thrown in there, it doesn’t take away from the overall intensity. The only real problem with that is the marketing aspect. Based on the trailer, it appears to be a typical thriller, and there’s a very specific audience for those types of movies. It will be hard to get people to the theater to see it that aren’t already horror buffs because there’s no indication there’s more to it than that.

The movie isn’t perfect, of course. There’s one scene in particular between Tom and Simon that doesn’t seem to add much to the overall plot. Everything seems to slow down around this scene, so for all intents and purposes, it’s supposed to be important, right? Not so much. Establishing a connection between Tom and Simon is definitely important, but it could have been better. Not to mention, the very ending comes crashing down in one giant twist, and bits and pieces seem to get lost in the process. Despite the minor discrepancies, it’s definitely worth the watch.

Bottom line: Red Lights is a new and better take on the paranormal world, and it goes above and beyond to show us why it makes sense to be skeptics. If you like horror movies (and even if you don’t), you won’t be disappointed with this one. The cast alone should be enough of a reason to draw you in, and once you’re in, sit back and enjoy the ride.