by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
For probably longer than any of us can imagine, humans have been fascinated with space. Maybe it’s because we like to know what is out there so there aren’t any surprises down the road, or maybe it’s because it is something we can see but really can’t grasp. Or perhaps it is because there is the possibility of other life in the universe, so we are not alone. Aliens. Dark Skies, the latest film from director Scott Stewart (Priest, Legion), focuses on the topic of aliens, but not necessarily in the normal way we’ve come to expect. And while the concept and direction of the film are good choices, it just doesn’t come together in the end.
Daniel (Josh Hamilton) and Lacy Barrett (Keri Russell) are a young married couple living in suburbia and trying to get by after Daniel loses his job. They have two boys; teenager Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and Sam (Kadan Rockett), who’s saying he’s being visited by the “Sandman” every night. Soon, weird things start happening around the house. Cook wear and appliances arranged on top of each other in impossible fashions, strange markings on the ceilings, flocks of birds crashing into the house, and that’s just to name a few.
Soon, physical symptoms start appearing on the boys and mental issues appear across the family as a whole. This leads the family to seek professional help from someone more knowledgeable of what they are going through. But will it be enough to save this family from whatever it is that is so interested?
Stewart takes a little bit from Close Encounters and a little from Paranormal Activity to give us a more “realistic” feel for the alien genre of movies. You could actually imagine an alien interaction like this happening as opposed to being abducted via a beam of light and hoisted up into a space ship and flown off. And while it works visually as well as giving us something that we could possibly fathom happening, it doesn’t work across the board. The overall pacing of the film isn’t necessarily slow, but it’s not where it should be at either. With horror, sci-fi or suspense, you expect the action to build and start moving along; like a train in motion. That doesn’t really happen here. And the action sequences aren’t nearly as exciting as the trailers may indicate.
In terms of performances, all of the actors are adequate enough, but they don’t necessarily stand out. In a film such as Dark Skies, the acting does take a back seat role to the suspense, so we can give them a pass for that. What does help the acting is the cinematography. The camera angles and use of lighting does well to create that suspense we want in a movie such as this.
The climax of the film was a little confusing for me as I really didn’t get a certain aspect. And after asking people I was with, they too were confused. While the ending is one that should be expected, it isn’t easy to accept. But then again, neither is life sometimes. We are all faced with trials and tribulations each and every day, so why should the ending to Dark Skies be any easier for the Barrett family? While Dark Skies isn’t something new to the genre, the way Scott Stewart presents it and the realism he brings to the screen pulls us into these lives, and once again brings a little fear into us about what lies outside of our grasp as we peer into the night sky.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars