Premise: Take everything you knew about modern ghost horror movies, and throw it out the window! Because this time (breathes in quickly) a house starts to get haunted (breathes in quickly) and a family doesn’t know what’s going on (breathes in quickly) and the kids are acting weird (breathes in quickly) and they call in an outside expert (breathes in quickly) and they set up video cameras (breathes in quickly) and the tension escalates throughout the movie (breathes in quickly) and… (breathes in quickly) and… (breathes in quickly) and… (breathes in quickly) and… (breathes in quickly) it’s original because this time it’s ALIENS, you guys! (exhales, smiles excitedly, pees pants)
-I actually enjoyed the tone of the movie. It could have gotten a much worse treatment, but it seems like the director (Scott Stewart) actually wanted to make a real film. He contrasted the “terrifying” night scenes with equally disturbing daytime scenes very nicely. An often underappreciated notion in horror films; he also created non-horror tension with the characters through everyday problems, like being unemployed. Nothing escalates tension about marital money issues quite like an alien invasion.
-The acting was pretty great from the leads (except for one, which I will discuss in the Cons section). The dad was especially good. He just gave a very natural, believable performance. Keri Russell pulls her weight as well. J.K. Simmons plays a good depressed guy.
-They took a really played out horror mechanic, like nighttime surveillance cameras, and they didn’t abuse it. FOR ONCE.
-It’s NOT a found footage film. I’m sure some film executive probably wanted it to be, and I’m very happy it’s not.
-I’m enjoying this recent trend of horror movies not taking the easiest way out anymore at the end.
-Good music and overall sound effects choices. They amplified the slow terror pretty nicely, just to compliment a horror movie on something other than jump scare noises.
-Kept me entertained throughout, and it wasn’t that long.
-The youngest kid in the family was played by a TERRIBLE child actor. One of the worst I’ve seen. He had awful delivery and showed no emotion in his face. There was a scene when he was in a park and he was just supposed to be screaming for a solid ten seconds, and he could barely make a scream face without glancing behind the camera and almost breaking into a smile. I bet that was the best take out of like 25, and it was still bad. He couldn’t pronounce words correctly either and I hated it every time he talked. Just listen to how he butchers his dialogue (especially the word “room”) 32 seconds into the trailer. What a dingus.
-The teenage characters had very punchable faces/haircuts. But I guess that’s how most teenagers look nowadays.
-Took a little too long for the dad character to come to his senses and believe what the problem was. Even when all the evidence was right in his face, he was still slightly unconvinced. At some point, I’d probably think aliens were messing with me if that much weird stuff was happening to my family, and it wouldn’t have taken that long.
-Considering that they’re aliens that can teleport through doors and walls, it doesn’t make much sense for the parents to separate themselves from their kids during the climactic action scene. WHICH THEY DO LIKE FIVE TIMES.
-Without spoiling it (because essentially there’s nothing to spoil), the explanation as to why the aliens are doing what their doing is explained “I don’t know why they choose who they choose, or why they do anything they do.” So basically, the aliens are just giant dicks. Still, that means there’s no purpose to this movie. It’s just terrible things happening to a family for 90 minutes with no real explanation. Nice atmospheric chaos, but kind of a stupid plot.
-The alien design was rather uninspired. They went for the classic grey 1950’s alien look. However, they never showed the aliens in focus, as even when they were close to the camera they were always blurry. This gave them a more menacing feel than they deserved. But c’mon, they had the design of something I’ve seen on a ten-cent guitar pick. Get a little more creative, guys.
Final Thoughts: It’s basically everything you’d expect from a horror movie of this kind, except with aliens instead of ghosts. That being said, I think Dark Skies is slightly better than most of its spooky competition. If you’re into this kind of thing, it’s maybe worth checking out, but it’s nothing to PHONE HOME about (sorry, had to do it).
6.5 out of 10