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.
Dark Skies suffers from the same problem that a lot of alien/poltergeist/ghostly movies suffer from: the absence of the monster is much scarier than the monster itself. When the story leaves you with a monster/ghostly shaped hole to fill in your mind, imaginations are left to run wild. You will fill the void with an image created from fragments of your own fears and insecurities. Which inevitably means that film makers are generally going to fall a bit flat when they try and introduce whatever it is they have conjured up in the FX studio.
Dark Skies is a prime example of this and falls short in part because of it.
Dark Skies charts the breakdown of a seemingly ordinary family who are being torn apart by invisible visitors to their home. And in typical fashion it is their creepy kid who is the only one who sees them. Unfortunately it never gets any more original than that. It in fact follows the scary movie tropes to the letter, including a slightly moronic sequence of decision making by the parents in the climactic scene which was purely to allow for the inevitable to happen.
You can see the influences on Stewart lit up like a neon sign, the most evident being Poltergeist, Signs and The Birds. The latter coming in the form of a lot of suicidal birds in what is arguably the most impactive scene in the movie.
Dark Skies is at it’s most entertaining in the opening act when it sets up a series of creepy invisible home invasions, including a scene whereby all of the family photos disappear. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton do well with their cookie cutter supernatural-thriller roles and the kids are as annoying and creepy as kids tend to be in these movies, but that’s forgiveable. It also looks really pretty with a lot of stark, washed out colours and Ikea catalogue interiors.
Unfortunately, with the revelation in the second act of what is likely causing the mysterious occurrences any sense of tension is lost as you immediately know where it is going. It also suffers from the Signs problem which is: ever since the anal probe episode of South Park you can’t have scary little grey men because they look, frankly, hilarious. Or worse yet, they look like dudes in alien costumes. By the time the final “twist” came about, which anyone who has seen any films like this will spot coming, it feels like Stewart felt compelled to reveal something which should have been left ambiguous.
Annoyingly there was probably a more interesting movie in here with the sub plot of Daniel (Josh Hamilton) trying to keep the financial wolves from the door by trying desperately to find another job in a stagnant market, and both parents being wrongfully accused of abusing the children with the various bruises and marks that appear on their bodies.
Like Signs, Dark Skies should have left the monsters behind the door.
Conclusion: Would quite like to be Paranormal Activity, Signs and Poltergeist. Not as good as any of them, but still better than a lot of the various other creepy kid horror movies recently.
Directors/Writers: Scott Stewart – Writer/director responsible for Legion and Priest. So not the greatest back catalogue of work.
Cast: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goya, Kadan Rockett, J.K. Simmons
No trivia of note