Director: Scott Stewart
Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett, J.K.Simmons
Once you’ve been chosen, you belong to them
The Barrett family is down on their luck. They might seem like they are living a perfect life with two children and a nice family house, but they are having financial problems and the father Daniel is not having any luck in finding a new job.
Their worries will increase when an alien entity is becoming more and more involved with their life, disturbing the sleep of their youngest son Sammy and also starting to get more and more control over all the family members. They not only have to find out what is causing these things, but also ask themselves if they are able to believe in it and only then can they try to fight it.
Dark Skies is a strange and unique take on alien abductions. It is basically played out like a haunted house movie, even though it is aliens and not ghosts who are responsible for doing the hauntings. It is an interesting mixture of horror and sci-fi, but it sadly doesn’t quite work all that well. They did try to make the alien entities scary and at least in my eyes it was not effective no matter how hard they tried.
I do applaud the filmmakers for trying to do something different though, and this was in good hands considering that it is under the Blumhouse Production company which has also been responsible for such big hits as Paranormal Activity, Sinister and Insidious. Perhaps the fault of this not being a much better film lies on the shoulders of the director/screenwriter Scott Stewart. It is not a very nice film to look at visually, lacking any type of visual creativity that we are used to with the other films mentioned from Blumhouse.
It seems like he tries to use the broken family concept for something more than a regular setting, but whatever his thoughts was, I couldn’t really figure it out or have enough care about the characters to even bother with it. None of the characters set themselves a part from other families used in horror films and if that was done on purpose then it was a bad decision. The tension is also not very effectively built up and some of the “scary” scenes are borderline comedic.
The film also spends a lot of time with the oldest son of the family, Jesse. He’s an insecure teenager who is going through the anxiety of being in love for the first time. His scenes are boring to watch and brings the movie down. They are used only for the end twist and since Jesse isn’t very interesting, it also makes the twist less effective.
Dark Skies is a film with an original concept, but still manages to feel very generic. It has trouble due to the actors/characters not standing out, although I would say Keri Russell does do a decent job with her character, and the horror scenes not being very scary. I give them props for trying to update the alien abduction subgenre, but I wish they had managed to make a more memorable movie.