Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: Dark Skies (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Scott Stewart
Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton and Dakota Goyo
Writer: Scott Stewart

Dark Skies opens in the fantasy suburbia that is the bread and butter of movies. Yet while this seems to be an idyllic setting, there is something off with everything. The slow panning shots, the eerie music, nothing is happening and already the movie is trying to sink it’s talons into our head. It’s effective and compelling and draws the viewer into the world.

Even with the creepiness the film takes it’s time to set up its characters and gives them problems that aren’t just extraterrestrial based. We get a family unit that is stressed and yet still pulls together through bad times. It gives us characters that we hope make it through the torment to come. It helps that Keri Russel and Josh Hamilton give us solid performances as the parents.

Scares are definitely of the boo variety but thanks to the atmosphere created it seems at least well fitted, reminding me a little of Insidious in this way. I was also appreciative of the subtle lightning effects and clues woven into the visuals. It’s always nice to watch a movie that seems to have a sense of pride in its production values.

Unfortunately cracks appear within some of the story beats and during the final third of the film. While creating a great atmosphere and having good performances, the movie does tread some well worn tracks of previous alien abduction tales and doesn’t bring anything new here. Clich√©’s aside, the movie has a pretty weak final act, things feel like they are going into a Poltergeist final confrontation but unfortunately  it never quite pays off. Massive shame.
Oh god. It's right behind you Felicity.
Being a small scale film the creators kept the CGI to a minimum and did a lot with practical effects. When CGI does rear its head it’s kept to the shadows, a solid production choice as it’s not all that impressive. The alien design is also a little uninspired as it really calls to mind the tall ‘Greys’ that many a conspiracy nut dreams about. Then again, that might be the point.

Overall I enjoyed this movie and was grateful for the set up it delivered. I was genuinely hooked for most the film and only wavered a little towards the end. Still, what it does it does well and while not bringing anything new to the genre, it does deliver a well-made story that acts like a sophisticated ghost house ride. I suggest to go ahead and get abducted and enjoy.

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