Director: Scott Stewart Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton & Jake Brennan Synopsis: “As the Barret family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.” Runtime: 97 minutes
“People think of aliens as these beings invading our planet in some great cataclysm, destroying monuments, stealing our natural resources. But it’s not like that at all. The invasion already happened.”
Dark Skies is a movie that I had no real preconceptions about before I viewed it at home for the first time the other day. I believe this helped the films cause, as any high expectations I may have had from watching the trailers or reading any previews, could well have killed it off for me upon viewing the film. That’s not to say the film is bad at all, it’s quite enjoyable actually, it just doesn’t do anything particularly new or adventurous, and instead merely goes through the motions of the sci-fi/horror staple quite well, which makes for a watchable if not a remarkable film.
Dark Skies is a fairly routine attempt at creating a sci-fi/horror movie that centers around a standard American family, who are the subject of a planned alien abduction, and who also have other real world issues to contend with. The Barret family are led by Daniel (Josh Hamilton) and Lacy (Keri Russell) who struggle with the day-to-day to grind of modern life, as well as the alien intruders who are attempting to ruin their life and, possibly, seize a member of their family.
Russell and Hamilton are two very good actors, who bring an admirable quality to their roles of distraught parents who are having their lives turned upside down by some very unwanted guests. Hamilton is particularly good, and brings a sense of sympathy to the role of the out of work father, as he struggles to maintain a healthy relationship with both his wife and his children. Russell is also notably good in the film, as she struggles to maintain a happy professional and home life, clearly burdened by being the sole breadwinner of the house.
The plot has been done to death before, but director Scott Stewart brings a subtlety to proceedings that allows us to focus on the Barret family, and feel a sense of humanity for them as their situation gets gradually worse throughout the film. Whether it was budgetary restraints, or a desire to hold back on the reveal, the creatures of this film are revealed slowly and the director helps bring a silent menace to them. I believe it was a wise move to focus on the human characters and their anguish, while keeping the alien intruders in the background & only having them emerge when completely necessary.
One gripe I had with this movie though, was the quote that appears at the start of the movie, the exact quote comes from British author Arthur C. Clarke and reads as follows: “Two possibilities exist… Either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” This very quote takes away any element of surprise that Dark Skies had going for it and the careful build up that it still does well, is somewhat hindered and the payoff could have been much greater if the audience were allowed to speculate as to what was actually happening, instead of being told from the get go that this film would feature aliens.
The film also appears to borrow heavily from many recent and classic horror movies, especially Paranormal Activity. The director is clearly a genre fan, and his passion is there for all to see, even if the film does, at times, comes across as more of a 97 minute nod to his favourite films instead of being anything truly original
In Summary: A fun, if flawed sci-fi/horror alien abduction movie. That, while never amounting to more than the sum of its parts, still remains a watchable piece of popcorn horror.