When I spoke with actor Cillian Murphy and writer/director Rodrigo Cortes about their film, RED LIGHTS, on June 19, 2012, the challenge was not to give too much away about what tranpires in the film, but still discuss the way it teases the audience about the limits and pitfalls of human perception. Murphy, an actor who rarely repeats himself, and Cortes, whose previous film, BURIED, proved that a film set entirely in a box buried under several feet of dirt can be a thriller of the first order, were properly circumspect, and the conversation proved a thoughtful consideration of why audiences enjoy being fooled, and why they don’t like changing their minds.
RED LIGHTS is a thriller about preconceived notions, science versus pseudoscience, and what may or may not be a fake lip piercing as it goes about peeking behind the curtain of illusion that masks reality. Murphy plays Dr. Tom Buckley, a physicist turned paranormal researcher with a palpable need to prove that the unexplained is merely the misunderstood. His mentor is Dr. Margaret Matheson, a woman who has yet to find something she can’t explain away, and who may be more disappointed by that than she lets on. When Simon Silver, psychic superstar and an old nemesis of Matheson’s reappears after three decades in retirement, Buckley and Matheson find themselves at odds over whether or not to take him on, which leads to a rift between the two of them, and ramifications that go far beyond it. The film co-stars Robert de Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Joely Richardson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Toby Jones. Cortes is the writer and director of the stunning film, BURIED, which took place entirely in a box containing an apolitical man placed under the earth by political extremists and said man‘s desperate attempts to escape by accommodating his captor‘s demands and overcoming his own government‘s impotence. Murphy’s previous work includes negotiating the pleasures and perils of women’s apparel in BREAKFAST ON PLUTO, terrorizing Rachel McAdams in RED EYE, fending off virus-crazed undead in 28 DAYS LATER, saving the planet from a dimming sun in SUNSHINE, and exploring the many and sometimes messy layers of the subconscious in INCEPTION.