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By Doug Brunell | May 29, 2002

When two college girls decide to head to West Virginia for some fun, they have no idea they’ll end up attending a hog roast with a bunch of bikers. They also aren’t prepared for the stories they’ll hear about mysterious lights that fly through the Shenandoah Valley and a weird pond that attracts deer. That’s just one part of this movie, however.

The rest of this film is a documentary about the making of “The Lights,” which is shot so that it fits “seamlessly” within the story. What viewers end up seeing is a sci-fi version of “The Blair Witch Project” that just doesn’t work on any level.

The idea behind the movie is interesting, and this film could’ve been a total terror ride. Instead of taking viewers on that ride, though, writer and director Ray Schmitt decided to use the worst actors he could find (some of them appearing to be West Virginia locals with no acting experience — apparently used to add authenticity) and take what should’ve been a suspenseful story and utterly suck the life from it. Nobody is believable, and the story goes nowhere fast. I never even bought the basic premise that two “fun-loving” college girls would head out to backwoods West Virginia. I grew up in Pennsylvania and hung out with a strange crowd. None of us ever wanted to go to West Virginia, and nobody ever ended up in “Deliverance” country looking for a good time. They found themselves there because they got lost. Since I didn’t believe the story from the beginning, the ending (where you’re supposed to buy the fact that something really happened to one of the actors) didn’t work for me.

Schmitt should remake this movie as a straight mockumentary using real talent. If he does that, I’m sure it will be far spookier and may actually earn a decent return.

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