Directed by: Scott Stewart
Produced by: Jason Blum
Cast: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett, and J.K. Simmons
The world is full of speculation as to whether or not Aliens or extraterrestrial beings actually exist. DARK SKIES tries hard to make you believe and convince you that not only do they exist… they’re already here.
The film follows The Barrett family, consisting of Lacy Barrett (Russell), Daniel Barrett (Hamilton), Jesse Barrett (Goyo), and Sam Barrett (Rockett), as they witness some very close encounters. Strange happenings and terrible events start to occur which leaves the family stressed out and seeking answers to their questions.
I have to say going into this film, I was very skeptical being that my last encounter with an alien film left me unfulfilled. So naturally, sights were low and by the time the lights faded to black I was up for anything. The first 45 minutes took on the slow burn effect that the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, another Blumhouse production, franchise has taken kind to. It throws you into the story of this suburban family in a situation that is all too familiar these days. With Daniel looking for work, and Lacy trying to sell a house, we automatically sense the stress laid on the family. Right off the bat it’s something that we can relate to which is an attempt to immerse us into the story. The only problem is that the story is pretty formulaic and resembles the structure of another Blumhouse favorite INSIDIOUS. In the beginning they throw all kinds of story at us to help us build emotions towards these characters. In the middle you have you have all the things that go bump in the night which then results in the family having to bring on an Alien specialist, played wonderfully by J.K Simmons. Finally we get to view the final showdown between man and alien or the greys as the film refers to them. Although the formula’s are tragically identical the scares are extremely original!
As a horror film, this movie plays out more psychologically leaving most of the violence to the mind. What’s surprising about this movie is that most of the horror comes from the atmosphere created by low camera angles and fierce lighting. The sound was unrelenting and was extremely effective. Most of this I attribute to the Cinerama dome’s ear drum busting sound. It was amazing to hear every single wind chime or dark barking in the distance just adding to this aural attack of sorts. When it came right down to the reveal of the greys or aliens it wasn’t over done and most of their screen time was seen in the shadows. This made them more sinister and creepy. Most of their details were hidden which was extremely unsettling because it allowed our brains to fill in blanks. Whereas we couldn’t see the aliens clearly on screen in our minds their images could rule 100 nightmares.
The acting was standard for a horror film of this caliber, however most of the greater performances came from the Barrett kids. Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett’s chemistry in this film was phenomenal. Even aside from each other each one of them produced a heart felt and at times terrifying performance. In Goyo’s performance you sympathized with his character recalling a time where you’re hormones were out of whack and the only thing on your mind is girls. After adding a series of mishaps that has the neighborhood against them, and having to come to terms with the fact that aliens not only exist, but are using your family as guinea pigs… this makes Goyo’s performance much more meaningful.
Overall the film was good, but far from great. There seems to be a problem these days with directors ending their films and this movie falls victim to this. There is a perfectly good ending 10 mins prior however the extra step was taken, but was most definitely not needed. This by no means swayed me from liking this film because overall I was entertained. What we have is 1 hour and 35 minutes of a well done film that is effective in not only scaring us, but making aliens scary again.
I guess the thought of Aliens seems dumb to some, but regardless of whether or not you believe in them doesn’t make them any less scary. The thoughts and subjects this movie brings up have been explored to death but somehow Stewart, Blum and company manage to make a legitimate Alien horror film. So as to whether or not this movie is worth paying $11.50 to get startled to the point of urination I say yes, just based upon the sound alone! The scares are absent in the first 45 minutes, but once they start hold onto your butts because things get real tense.
DARK SKIES opens everywhere on Friday 2/22/2013.
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