I’ll be honest, I didn’t have the highest expectations for Dark Skies. The trailers made it seem like just another terror-unleashed-on-ordinary-family-in-suburbia type movie and to an extent it is. The story focuses on the Barrett family who begin experiencing a series of odd (at first), and then increasingly disturbing incidences in their household. Convinced they are being visited by alien beings, they are eventually compelled to seek answers to the strange happenings. With the help of the internet (of course), they find a local alien abduction investigator who gives them some insight into the true intent of the visitors and what might be coming next. This leads up to a climactic showdown with what the family believes is haunting them.
As the family emotionally, physically, and psychologically falls apart, Writer/Director Scott Stewart (Legion, Priest) does a good job of gradually building up the tension. By the final confrontation, the audience has such a sense of uneasiness and discomfort that pretty much anything at that point would be startling. Stewart exploits that effectively with some subtle, but scream-inducing visual images as the family tries in vain to escape the inevitable. Some people may perceive there to be a twist at the climax, but clever audiences will see it coming.
Unfortunately, Dark Skies is not overly original. The story is slight twist on a familiar tale, but there are several references that will be very familiar to audiences (especially older ones) from such films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, and Paranormal Activity. For the most part, these don’t play a crucial part in Dark Skies, but are fairly closely associated with those other films and even iconic in some cases. I feel that Stewart could have found more creative options (or left them out altogether) so that the audience doesn’t think at key moments “Oh, that is just like they did in…(another movie)”. But I will give him credit, the visual effects are subtle, effective and not over-done.
One of the best things about Dark Skies is Keri Russell. Her performance as the wife/mother is outstanding, and this film, along with her performance in the new FX series “The Americans”, has made me respect her as a very talented actor. Other performances are not bad, but she stands a head taller than everyone else.
Overall, Dark Skies is not brilliantly creative, but is a good film with lots of tension, suspense, and a few heart-stopping moments that make it worth seeing in theaters.
[youtube id=”NSu5olDHQ5Y” width=”620″ height=”360″]
::: Renowned For Sound Technical Director and Film Reviewer ::: Robert is an IT geek, movie fan and part-time movie reviewer/editor. Robert also looks after the ‘behind the scenes’ technical elements of Renowned For Sound.