|REVIEWS - Film Reviews|
|Written by Nick Watson|
|Friday, 22 February 2013 09:49|
"Dark Skies, for all its formulaic presentation, offers more than a few genuine scares and some tense moments"
From the producers of a string of highly disappointing horror movies that bring in box office numbers (Insideous, Paranormal Activity and Sinister) comes a new offering that is actually effective, and delivers the goods. Dark Skies, for all its formulaic presentation, offers a few genuine scares and some tense moments in the hour and a half running time, even though it feels a lot longer than it actually is. Director Scott Stewart has moved away from the special effects laden action flicks for which he is known (Priest, Legion) and crafted a film that is slower, darker and entertaining.
Tucked away in the typical white middle-class America, the Barret family is having some problems. Daniel (Josh Hamilton) has been struggling to find work, something that adds to stress in any relationship, on top of dealing with two young sons and typical marital woes. Keri Russell plays his wife Lacy, a realtor trying to sell less than ideal homes to more than ideal clients, but the market is bad these days, so they say. Strange things begin to happen inside their home that are inexplicable; the security alarm goes off, the fridge is raided and food garbage is thrown about, a sculpture that reflects light patterns on their ceiling appears, and no one in the family is confessing. Birds attack the house, everyone begins to sleepwalk and have weird rashes and wounds on their bodies that appear for no reason. Something is terrorizing the family and the attacks are becoming more and more intense, and the youngest son Sam ( Kaden Rockett) is complaining about a mysterious "sandman" visiting him in the night.
From the very beginning, the relationship between Daniel and Lacy is believable as a married couple dealing with unemployment, parenting and their own love life. Kery Russell provides a somewhat captivating performance as a mother who is eventually taken to her wits end. Josh Hamilton could very well be the father-next-door, or even your own, in his portrayal of a stressed out suburban father. The eldest son played by Toronto born actor Dakota Goyo plays a hormonally confused teenager who acts out and does all the typical things a teenager does, and does it well. All together the cast works well as a middle-class American family, seemingly like they have all known one another for years.
The one drawback to Dark Skies is how utterly formulaic the whole thing plays out, and if you have seen recent movies like Insideous or Sinister, it is easy to spot the similarities. If it brings in the box office numbers then the studio powers that be are happy. But don't try to argue that they aren't all the same. A middle-class nuclear family is slowly town apart by some evil force that is invading their home, some allegorical device that deals with sickness, feelings of inadequacy or the terrifying thought of your teenager growing up and something you can't control taking them away from you. There always needs to be some greater meaning behind the story that come from this particular family of films, things just don't seem to happen for the sake of happening. But Dark Skies offers something a little different here: a movie that is actually scary and the scariest alien movie I've seen since Signs. And if you're like me, that movie still scares me, no matter how many times I've seen it.
I went in not knowing anything about this movie other than the cast and who was behind it. That may have swayed my already biased opinion, but by the end of the film I was satisfied that it delivered what was promised. It isn't heavy on the special effects or blood which works well for this movie. It builds the tension up rather quickly and keeps you intrigued until the very end. Dark Skies is the first truly satisfying horror movie of 2013 that will have audiences jumping out of their seats.