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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Dark Skies

Dark Skies
(Sci-Fi, Thriller)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 97 minutes
Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett, J.K. Simmons.
Directed By: Scott Stewart
Rating: 4 out of 10
A suburban family is struggling with a strange phenomenon occurring around their house.

“Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying” – Arthur C. Clarke.

Dark Skies is the story of the Barrett family. They are living a quiet suburban life and trying to make ends meet. That is until some strange and unexplained events around their house make them question their sanity, and could cost them their lives.

When you have seen The X-Files, Fringe, and countless movies on extraterrestrial life forms, this film comes off as a seen that before, not so fright fest. Not to mention it’s dull. The film starts off and we are introduced to the Barrett family. They are struggling to get by in a tough economic climate. Mrs. Barrett (Lacy) sells houses, and Mr. Barrett (Daniel) is out of work. They have two kids (Jesse and Sam), and are living pay cheque to pay cheque. Money is soon to become the least of their worries, as weird events start to happen in and around their home. Strange markings on the walls and furniture moving on its own volition are a precursor to more sinister events. Something is terrorizing this family and the scariest part about it is there is no explanation as to why. The wildlife starts to act bizarrely around their house, the appliances and lights sporadically turn off and on, and painful rashes and bruises appear on their skin. All of these happenings have no rational answers. This film does have a couple of quality jump/scares as things half seen are skillfully added at the right moments. There are not nearly enough of these scary moments though, so the viewer has to pretend to care about a family that is not that interesting to watch. There are also moments of viewer curiosity as to where things are leading, but the film takes a tired approach of arriving at an answer. The obvious one believer and one non believer take, leads to some petty arguments and inane fighting, which is terrible to watch. The first half of the movie is more than enough time to realize that this film is not going to succeed.

The acting is actually not bad with Keri Russell playing Mrs. Barrett, and Josh Hamilton playing Mr. Barrett. Because they are the leads of the movie, the film is actually watchable from an acting stand point. They are a couple stressed about money, stressed about the strange events, and stressed about being parents. Those stresses are noticeable in their faces, and in their interactions with each other. Their kids are played by Dakota (get a haircut kid) Goyo, and Kadan Rockett. I don’t remember them as being bad, so I will say they did a decent job, although I could have done without a super awkward teenage make out session. Lastly, J.K. Simmons is in this to provide a little more acting cred to the roster.

As the film carries on it doesn’t get much better. The family is suffering more and more at the hands of some unknown force. Their bruises become worse, their memories become worse, and their personalities become super erratic. They must find an answer before they are consumed by this phenomenon. And like all horrors these days, if you have a supernatural problem then just Google it, as there will always be an expert close by at your disposal (sigh). The family struggles to fight an enemy that they cannot comprehend, and the viewer watches a film that doesn’t comprehend how to be proper thriller. Topping it all off, the ending is a tired event that will satisfy few, if any. In conclusion, this movie will be much more appreciated by a younger audience. The PG-13 rating limits the effectiveness of most of the scary scenes, and the sheer absence of memorable scares is concerning. The acting saves this film from being truly abysmal, but this film is treading on ground we have already seen. Signs, Fire in the Sky, and X-Files, are all examples of things this movie has rehashed. Lastly, you would think that something with intelligence far beyond ours would not leave signs that are so obvious?

Director and writer Scott Stewart does an okay job with this movie. His core audience (teens) should be happy with this film but it isn’t for everyone. The budget (Est. 3.5 million) hurts some of the scenes with poor special effects, and the sheer lack of times we see these unknown creatures hurts this film as well. He shows he is capable though, as I did jump on a few occasions, and the film was nicely paced and cast. I think with a little more money and a little more originality, this film could have worked.

I cannot recommend this film as the scariest thing about it is that Dakota Goyo thinks that is an acceptable hairstyle.

T Factor + If you like Sci-Fi films then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like your horror films to be bloody and gory, then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Signs, Fire in the Sky.

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