Scott Stewart’s ‘Dark Skies’ is the tale of a suburban family being terrorized by unknowing being in the comfort of their own home. They begin to experience odd events that are scaring both them, and their two sons, such as a large mass of birds flying into their house, strange seizures, mind control and unusual marks appearing on their skin. Typically, the parents brand it as coincidences, and soon they take a turn for the worst.
After a lot of plodding, built-up and anti-climactic tension, we soon realise the culprits are slender-man style aliens. I thought that as I entered the screening, I was in for a semi-original, scary, sci-fi horror, however, I am afraid to say that I was disappointed… References from great horror’s such as The Birds, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and even E.T were fairly obvious. For me, the film became less of an enjoyable scare and more of a ‘spot-the-reference’ game. I think it is even safe to say that by combining Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister and E.T, you would create a (possibly better) hybrid version of this film.
As for the actors, I didn’t really notice much chemistry between Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton, whether that be because of the stereo-type stuffed characters or the poor acting. I feel like most of the actors just coasted their way through the film, not necessarily portraying a bad version of the part, but certainly not standing out. The script was shabby, with every character bearing ropey dialogue, which certainly doesn’t help the acting. Even the alien-know-it-all character speaks in cliches throughout his appearances in this film. I was focusing more on enduring the dialogue and filming more so than enduring the horror side of it.
I also feel that Dark Skies was missing something to be completely scared about. The aliens just appeared slightly silly and stereotypical as the film progressed, and that just adds a unnecessary comedic factor to the film. Apart from a few jumpy scenes, you had nothing to be scared about, the aliens weren’t posing any obvious threats throughout the film, and as it reached its climax, it wasn’t clear what threat appeared. I found it hard for the fear to stay with me during the film, let alone after the screening ended.
I started to find little things in the film hilarious. The horror factor completely wore off during the middle section of the film, where it is meant to be reaching an optimum. Instead I was hysterically laughing at the Mother repeatedly banging her head on the window, how can they put that in a film without people finding it funny, and how in hell is that meant to be scary and stirring? The film just isn’t intelligent, and certainly doesn’t think of the consequences of the overall picture on the screen. Try watching a fully grown man gawp at nothingness for 5 minutes, a boy with a tiny mouth provide a girl-like scream or a woman continuously bang her head on a glass pane and not laugh. That is a challenge.
For me, a good horror builds up tension throughout with a few added scared a long the way, in which the audience is then greeted with a eventful ending involving a frightening scenario. I suppose it just seemed like Dark Skies saved all the scares towards the end of the film, while just building up the tension at the beginning. Usually, I would applaud this, however, Dark Skies has a un-captivating and certainly not scary ending. Unless you count over-done, hit-and-miss CGI scary? ( I do)
I sort of feel obliged to say something good about this film, and as I dig deep for a compliment I guess you can say that the film did bring you what you would expect from a film tagged ‘from the creators of Paranormal Activity, Insidious and Sinister’, a lot of loud noises. There were typical jumpy, look-behind-you, -don’t-go-in-the-cupboard, turn-the-damn-light-on kind of scenes which I suppose are whats needed in a modern horror (as much as this upsets me). So it did make me jump a bit, not necessarily scared me, but I jumped. I guess that’s a compliment?
Ultimately, it is a less intelligent ‘Signs’. It failed to absorb me in the first 10 minutes, and also failed at trying to rope me back into the movie. Greeted with an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu, Dark Skies certainly didn’t surprise me. The film is highly unlikely to leave a lasting impression on any cinema-goers, not even horror devotees. I don’t recommend a visit to the cinema for this, or even wait for a network screening on Channel 4. This film wasn’t even worth orange-Wednesdays, I would have had more fun watching a Nicholas Sparks movie, or hearing George Lucas praise himself….
(p.s I thought I would start rating the movies I review now so the popcorn = star, if that wasn’t fairly obvious already)