In 2016 I went with my boyfriend and two other friends to see the movie Lights Out, a PG-13 horror movie about a brother and sister who are targeted by what seems to be a malicious ghost from their mother's past. However, having seen the movie since, there are a few things that have come to bother me about the so-called ghost, Diana. The ultimate question came to my head: What is Diana? (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
In the movie, Rebecca finds the research that her stepfather, Paul, did before he was killed by Diana in the opening scene. According to the movie, Diana was born with a particularly rare skin condition that prevented her from being able to be exposed to bright lights, especailly sunlight. Authorities found 12-year-old Diana locked in the basement of her home, along with the body of her father, who had written on the wall in his own blood, "She was in my head," implying certain supernatural aspects to her existence from the very beginning. She befriended young Sophie while admitted to Mulberry Mental Hospital, beginning to show signs of aggression whenever Sophie, who was there for her severe depression, started getting better. Because of the unknown nature of her skin condition, the doctors of Mulberry Mental Hospital attempted to treat her by exposing her to different amounts of light, treating her condition like an allergy to light. Tragically, they exposed her to too much light and she died as a result.
Is Diana a vengeful ghost?
There's no argument that Diana shows many aspects of your typical horror movie ghost, but there are also a lot of aspects missing that make me hold off on classifying her as a ghost. First of all, ghosts in horror movies usually show activity after their tragic demise from the human world. Think back to movies like The Poltergeist, The Haunted Mansion, Casper, and other ghost, not demon, movies. In each of these movies, these ghosts show activity almost immediately after they left the human world. Another factor that ties directly into this (please stop thinking, "That's not true," and let me explain) is that there seems to be certain conditions to their hauntings as well. In all major ghost movies (and I'm talking ghost movies, not demon movies like The Conjuring or Annabelle), ghosts choose to haunt certain places based on what ties they had to that particular place when they were alive or if they are buried there. Another condition is they can be helpful to all they come across or they can be set on revenge. Diana meets none of these conditions. She seems to run around on her own free will, doing what she wants, where she wants, to who she wants. Instead of being tied to a particular place, like most ghosts, she is tied directly to Sophie, but she doesn't stay in one spot, either, as we see her in Paul's studio and Rebecca's apartment. She also doesn't hurt just anyone she comes across either, like you would expect a vengeful ghost to do. When she appears at the studio to kill Paul, she never attacked or even attempted to harm his assistant. Instead, she just stood there and even got slightly closer, like she was examining the assistant's response to her. However, when she came into contact with Paul, she did everything possible to wound and kill him. We also see a bit of the same concept with Martin. We never actually see Diana try to harm Martin in any way. Instead, when she did get close enough to touch him, she "brushed his hair back from his face." Even Sophie is treated differently. She and Diana actually have full, nonthreatening conversations that somehow convince Sophie that she is alive. Even when Diana knocked Sophie out during the final battle in order to prevent her from saving her children and taking her antidepressants, she didn't attempt to kill her but stop her from making, in Diana's eyes, a big mistake. Furthermore, the first of Diana's activity isn't reported until Rebecca's biological father supposedly left his family, and she doesn't return until the beginning of the movie, several years from when Rebecca experienced Diana's presence and even longer after she died. Vengeful ghosts in other movies don't exhibit this much discretion in their activities, which makes you wonder if Diana is actually a ghost at all.
Is Diana a demon?
While an argument can be made that she is a demon, there is still several things that don't fit that picture. Typically in demon movies such as The Conjuring or Annabelle, you don't see a demon have a backstory that includes being human to begin with. Normally, a person is possessed by a demon after being summoned before or after the death of someone and assumes their identity to trick the family after the original soul has already moved on or been taken by the demon. Now, it could be possible that a demon was summoned at some point, either by Diana or her father, but we don't get enough evidence from her backstory to build a solid theory on if that happened or not. The other issue I have with Diana being a demon is her interaction with the other people in the movie. Rather than attempting to kill Sophie and take her soul, Diana chooses to keep her "alive and well" because, as Sophie puts it, "there is no (Diana) without (Sophie)." Now, this part right here was a very interesting fact that actually caused me to come up with a theory of my own, but I'll get to that in a second. In all these horror movies, demons kill, take souls, and move to the next victim, but Diana doesn't do this. Typically, demons also try to ward of interlopers in various ways and rarely diverge from their intended victim. Diana does the exact opposite... Diana kills anything that threatens her connection to Sophie, yes, and she does it without warning. However, she also takes into consideration those who don't seem to pose a threat with a completely different intention than you would come to expect from a demon. Again, she interacts with Paul's assistant and Martin in nonthreatening ways, but why is she interacting with them at all? Unless the demon feels threatened or is warding someone off, you don't typically see them interact with people in horror movies at all, especially in the way Diana acted with Martin and young Rebecca. If Diana is a demon (and I don't think she is), she shows a significant difference in behavior to the behaviors exhibited by demons in other movies.
My Theory on What Diana Is
As previously mentioned, there was actually one line in the whole movie that really made me wonder about Diana. When confronting Diana, Sophie told her, "You (Diana) need me (Sophie). There is no you without me." As I processed this, I thought about Sophie's clinical depression and how it seems to have been an issue throughout the whole movie. Rebecca summed it up perfectly when she stated how Diana only came around when Sophie was at her worst, which happened a few times in the events of the movie. Now, I finally came up with a fairly sound theory, which will sound a little far fetched at first, but, once I explain, you will see what I mean. I believe that Diana is the personification of Sophie's depression. Before anyone starts screaming at their computer or phone, let me explain. Throughout the movie, Sophie's depression is thrown around so casually by everyone she knows, but, when you pay attention to the context of these comments, it actually becomes a pretty big deal. I myself suffer from depression as well, and, let me tell you, it isn't easy. It's like you have a constant voice in your head, nagging you about the upsetting things in your life and constantly dragging you down, making you feel guilty for everything, even the things that are out of your control. Diana, according to Rebecca, only shows up when Sophie depression is at its worse. She hurts those who try to help and drags Sophie down until it feels like there is no escape. However, Diana doesn't hurt those Sophie loves unless they try to help her. And, Diana completely disappears when Sophie kills herself at the end of the movie to save her kids. I'm not condoning suicide at all. Instead, I'm merely pointing out how Diana seems to personify depression and how untreated depression is a danger to the one suffering from it as well as those they love.
Officially, according to the movie's creators, Diana is a ghost; however, she appears to personify depression that has been untreated for too long.