Dreadful ‘Dark Skies’ Delivers Few Scares
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013 18:02
There are a few key elements that go into making a horror movie scary. First and foremost is that the big monster’s reveal should not cause the audience to laugh. Usually the goal is to make them scream, gasp, or cover their eyes, but really laughter should be pretty much avoided. Sadly, if there was a memo with that simple truth on it, then it never made it to writer/director Scott Stewart’s desk. What this miraculously short and disturbingly weak horror movie advertised was an unsettling alien horror thriller with lots of scares. What it delivered was a played out alien stinker with a couple of BOO moments and an ending that actually inspired audibly disheartened sighs from various audience members.
Dark Skies begins with the classic bustling suburbia—kids are playing in the pool, fathers are grilling up burgers, and life seems to be simple for all. Sadly for the main characters of the film, this carefree lifestyle did not last particularly long (at least not for the viewer). The family is made up of a currently unemployed architect father with a wife who works in real estate who have an adorable five-year-old and an angsty 13-year-old. In spite of their age difference, the two boys are very close and they spend their nights with walkie-talkies radioing back and forth from their rooms as the older brother reads scary stories. While this may come as a surprise to some, that was actually foreshadowing and set up quite a few plot points for later on.
In an act of Hollywood mercy, the film got into the swing of things almost immediately, possibly the only device not ripped off from the Paranormal Activity series, with the mother waking up in the middle of the night and noticing strange happenings. Coincidentally, all of these minute details come up again when the family seeks the advice of an alien “expert.” Crazy right? Even crazier than that, these strange occurrences grow progressively more unsettling, which prompts the man of the house to install security cameras. Here’s another big surprise, the aliens have apparently experienced human security systems before because the video went fuzzy the second any alien came into frame. Don’t worry, the audience does get a couple of good looks at the alien menace, and that may be the most disappointing part of all. The villains of Dark Skies, known as “the Greys” were gangly faceless stock aliens that lose their scare factor almost immediately.
While the lack of intimidation inspired by the aliens was upsetting, easily the worst part of the film was the acting. First off, the youngest son’s acting was pretty tough to watch. Sure, he is young and the director can almost definitely be faulted, but almost all of his lines were mumbled, except for a pretty comical moment where he just sits in the middle of a park and screams at the top of his lungs, it’s okay though—it was the aliens’ fault. The next star who failed to impress was the mother (Keri Russell) who simply could not deliver a line without it sounding forced. She had what must have been the shining moment of the film when she inexplicably walked up to a glass door and starting beating her face against it in the middle of a meeting. That was absolutely hilarious. Nothing says quality comedy like bad horror. In spite of all this mediocrity, the husband was actually pretty likable and convincing. One couldn’t help but feel bad for the character and the actor himself (Josh Hamilton), both of whom seem to be forced into unfortunate circumstances beyond their control.
The end of the movie was nothing short of a relief. Horror buffs should avoid it because it was not scary, thriller buffs stay away because there was maybe one thrill. Really, the only audience this train wreck should bring in is one that plans on making jokes the whole time because honestly, it provided more ha’s than ah’s.