Top critical review
A slightly missed opportunity.
on 22 August 2013
Dark Skies is essentially a haunted house movie but, this time, it's not ghosts going bump in the night. The film follows a typical, white bread, middle class American family, Mom, Dad and two young, floppy fringed sons. Dad (Josh Hamilton) is down on his luck workwise but on the brink of landing a lucrative new job and Mom (Keri Russell from The Americans) is an Estate Agent doing her best to keep it all together. So far, so normal. It's not long though before strange things are happening during the night and even, in a scene recently copped by the superior "The Conjuring", in broad daylight.
The adults begin to experience strange seizures, bleeding and unaccountable missing hours in their days and the children develop mysterious and alarming marks on their skin. Before long, Dad has bought an in-house surveillance system and we're firmly into "Paranormal Activity" territory.
And that's when things start getting really weird...
Dark Skies isn't a bad movie by any means. It's quite a slow burning, brooding piece with a pleasing air of foreboding about it that easily draws you in and, mostly, keeps you captivated.
It borrows liberally from others, notably a few Spielberg tropes and the aforementioned Paranormal Activity (of which this isn't nearly as spooky but is probably more entertaining than the sequels were).
An air of doom and "something-is-about-to-happen" is a positive in this type of movie but only when the the threat is made good on. As it is, Dark Skies just about fulfils its quotient of jumpy moments but long stretches of extraterrestrial inactivity means it skirts dangerously close to dullness on occasion.
The visual reveal of what's actually going bump in the night is skillfully and creepily handled but the film seems a little lost at sea with what to do with itself after that. Many have been surprised by the ending but if you've seen any number of this sort of film you really shouldn't be.
The final rug pull left me feeling a little indifferent and ultimately unsatisfied.
So a film of several good parts, the acting is uniformly excellent as is the lighting and the infrequent but effective special effects. However, all said and done, rather disappointingly lacking in bite for a major release.