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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Dark Skies

dark_skies

From Fire in the Sky to The Fourth Kind, alien abduction has always been a popular subject of sci-fi/horror films.  It’s not really surprising, since the thought of extraterrestrials kidnapping and experimenting on humans is quite terrifying.  In fact, seeing such stories on 1990s paranormal TV shows, such as Sightings, sometimes gave me nightmares as a kid.  Dark Skies doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, however I thought that it was effective in bringing the scares, even if it was quite weak in other areas.

The film focuses on Lacy (Keri Russell) and Daniel (Josh Hamilton), who are a husband and wife living with two kids in the suburbs.  Daniel is currently unemployed and the family is struggling somewhat financially.  One night, strange events begin to start happening in the house and they seem to be focused on the couple’s youngest son Sam.  As the events worsen and all the family members begin to experience blackouts and strange behaviours, Lacy begins to suspect that her family may have been the victims of aliens.  After consulting with a conspiracy theorist (J.K. Simmons), with knowledge of extraterrestrials, Lacy and Daniel prepare to protect their family from the invading beings.

Dark Skies doesn’t really have that deep a story and, with the exception of some specific details, that entire plot outline I gave, most of which is shown in the trailer, effectively sums up the bulk of the film.  Despite being a film about aliens, the possibility that they may be behind the strange occurrences doesn’t really enter the plot until late in the second act.  Even then, we have to go through a couple “we must be crazy to believe in aliens” scenes before the plot fully moves forward in that direction.  The film is at its best during the scary alien moments and even had a jump scare that caught me off guard (a rarity these days).  The film also takes a page out of Paranormal Activity an utilizes security footage to record the strange activity at night, even though this aspect of the film isn’t developed as much as it could have been.

Other than the somewhat effective scary moments, the film loses some points for bad acting and family melodrama spread out throughout the film.  Lacy and Daniel are frequently seen arguing over their financial troubles and they have a straining relationship with their teenage son Jesse, who has begun hanging out with an older kid, who is somewhat of a bad influence.  By the end of the film I was able to see why all this melodrama was present in the film, but it brought the film down a peg for me.

It’s also fair to call this a b-grade film, due to the lack of marquee actors.  Even though Keri Russell is having a bit of a comeback, with her new FX television series The Americans, she is nowhere near as well known as she was in the late 1990s, when she was starring in the TV show Felicity.  The only other actor in the film I was really familiar with was J.K. Simmons, who pretty much steals the film in his role as the obligatory “old/crazy man, who knows everything.”  They really should cast him more in these types of roles.

Overall, despite the bad acting and melodrama, I would say that Dark Skies was an overall effective, if not flawed, sci-fi/horror film.

7 | FAIR 

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).