Dark Skies: Subdued, Spooky Alien-Invasion Thriller
Dakota GoyoJ.K. Simmons...
“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying” – Arthur C. Clarke
Jason Blum, the producer of Paranormal Activity, Sinister and 2010’s, Insidious, turns to director, Scott Stewart – responsible for 2009’s Legion and 2011’s Priest – to bring forth the creeps in new alien-invasion thriller, Dark Skies.
Chilling and unnerving, Stewart – who also penned the script – succeeds by taking on Dark Skies with a more quiet and subdued approach, ultimately proving that less is always more.
Dark Skies centres on suburban couple, Lucy (Russell) and Daniel Barrett (Hamilton), who are struggling to get by and provide for their sons, Jesse (Goyo) and Sam (Rockett). The bills are piling up and the mortgage is long over-due; Daniel is an out- of-work architect and is desperately trying to land a new job, while Lucy is struggling to make a sale as a real-estate agent.
Soon, things get from bad to worse when the family starts to experience strange occurrences around the house. From a mysterious kitchen intruder and strange patterns on the ceiling, to family photos being removed from their frames; things are a miss but no one, including the police – who can only assume that the kids are playing pranks – can work it out.
The couple seeks help from supernatural force expert, Edwin Pollard (Simmons), who encourages the family is to believe in something out of this world and consider desperate measures in order to fight off whatever is attacking them.
Setting the chilling tone right from the very start, Stewart succeeds by choosing to rely on mood, rather than jumps and screams. Dark Skies is quiet and takes its time to develop, but it’s never boring or drawn-out.
Stewart, who also worked on 2005’s Sin City, knows a thing or two about visual effects and creates a rich visual palette, using light and shadows to his advantage; if anything, Dark Skies is very attractive to look at.
Although there are more positives than the negatives, the main downfall of the film is that the crutch of the story is revealed far too early. By the time you get to the end, it feels more like a confirmation of what you already knew, rather than a cathartic revelation.
In terms of performances, the characters are given depth, ultimately making you care for what the family is going through. Russell – known for her role in the T.V series, Felicity – shows excellent fortitude as the lead, paving the way for everyone else. As the sceptical husband, Hamilton only really comes into his own during the second half of the film, while both Goyo and Rockett, show remarkable versatility considering their age.
Quiet and eerie, Dark Skies promises a satisfying ride and although it’s not one of the best alien-invasion stories ever told it, still makes for a worthy watch.