Dark Skies - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
IF YOU’RE prepared to accept that originality is a precious commodity in Hollywood circles, then Dark Skies is a fairly effective variation on the alien invasion genre.
Directed by Scott Stewart, who has previously bombarded us with Doomsday and post-apocalyptic scenarios in Legion and Priest, this is a visitation movie that also embodies horror elements.
Hence, while clearly taking it’s cues from the likes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Signs, there’s also a generous helping of films like Paranormal Activity thrown in. The result often feels hugely (even lazily) derivative. But it’s not without success.
Kerri Russell and Josh Hamilton play a financially struggling mother and father who suddenly find strange things going on in their house.
At first, events are confined to things being moved around but when their youngest son (Kadan Rockett) claims to have been visited by The Sandman and birds start flying into their home (mirroring events in other towns) their suspicions grow they have been singled out by something extra terrestrial.
Stewart’s film is at its most comfortable when making audiences jump and the director has a lot of fun in making them do so with some effectively creepy set pieces, even though some techniques are blatantly lifted from other films (Paranormal‘s use of in-home video data especially).
But he also gives his cast room to explore some of the emotional complexity at play and draws convincing performances from Russell and Hamilton, whose reluctant acceptance of their predicament is convincingly executed.
Rockett, as their youngest son, also convinces (as does Dakota Goyo as their eldest), while JK Simmons plays things nicely deadpan as an eccentric alien expert late on.
As enjoyable as things remain, however, there is a certain disappointment that Stewart doesn’t attempt to subvert expectations more or really go for something unique, while an ending that opens things up for a possible sequel feels cheap when shutting things down a few moments earlier would have leant it something more lasting.
With all this in mind, Dark Skies succeeds on its own limited terms if you’re a genre fan. But as is so often the case with the mainstream, it also feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
Running time: 90mins
UK Release Date: April 3, 2013