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I am completely surprised at some of the low ratings and remarks concerning this movie. My daughter and I just watched it. I hate horrors because I have nightmares all night long after watching one. I stick to the suspense and thrillers. I had reservations about this movie after reading the makers of this also made paranormal activity which I watched and found utterly cheesy. Just my own personal opinion. But this movie I really enjoyed. It kept me on the edge of my seat with my hands at the ready to slap across my eyes. I love a well made alien encounter movie and this movie did it for me. Lots of jumping moments, lots of edge of the seat suspense. I did not walk away feeling like I should have spent my money on something else!
Can a science fiction film be given the horror treatment? This isn't
something new, like The Fourth Kind, but unlike that film, this one is
truly terrifying, especially when you least expect it to be. Granted
its credits never fail to remind you that the producers here were also
behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious, but look hard for that ghoul
set to spook, and you'll never find it. Instead it deals with alien
abduction, and boy, has it never been delivered this good, and scary.
Written and directed by Scott Stewart, this is a definite improvement from his earlier efforts with Legion and Priest. Dark Skies lulls you into some complacency, introducing the audience to the Barrett family, who may seem like the typical all American one living in the suburbs, where dad Daniel (Josh Hamilton) is in between jobs, and mom Lacy (Keri Russell) supports the household for the time being as a realtor to keep the mounting bills at bay. Sons Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and Sam (Kadan Rockett) are the typical teenager and toddler growing up, with a little bit more focus on the former as he hangs out with relative geek company, and is on his first romantic brush with the daughter of his mom's best friend.
Then things start to go all strange, and at times begin to feel like Paranormal Activity in treatment for just a bit. Lacy finds herself inexplicably waking up in the middle of the night to encounter things like having her fridge raided by someone unknown, or seeing her kitchen wares and containers stacked in a geometric pattern. These are the more benign encounters, until flocks of migrating birds start to violently converge at their house, and each family member start to behave as if possessed, losing track of time, and being subconsciously unaware during their awake hours. Worse, they also seem to bear the marks of physical harm, and it's not long after that CCTV cameras got placed around the house.
But no, we're not given any found footage treatment or first person perspective, because that would be pushing the envelope of familiarity. Instead, Dark Skies relies on good old fashioned storytelling, with a fair bit of conventional devices, techniques and styles to amplify key moments in the narrative that will make you cringe at your seat, or be tightly grabbing onto that armrest when Stewart deftly builds suspense. The horror imagery got strongly built into carefully crafted scenes, which made this many times more effective than the average horror film that had blood, gore and makeup as part of its arsenal, something conspicuously absent in Dark Skies, but demonstrating that it could do a lot more with less.
The narrative was kept simple enough to revolve only around a handful of characters, and firmly around the family that allows it to be easily identifiable under a What If scenario, while building one's affiliation with them as they seem nice enough not to be suffering under such inexplicable terms. But what worked wonders here are the technical aspects, from its steady cinematography which is minus all the trappings of badly formed habits that would have made this a blur to follow, and solid editing that instills fear especially when transitioning between lost time. What stood out will be the brilliant sound design of course, adding that layer to bring that shiver down your spine. Watching this with the volume turned off would have neutered the film, and that's testament to how important, and effective this aspect was to the movie.
The finale is set to ruff a few feathers, although it may be a stretch to suggest that there would be doors left open for a follow up film. The cast delivered top performances, augmented by technical competency to make this the perfect blend of science fiction with horror sensibilities that puts many contemporary horror films of late to shame. A definite recommendation if you're looking for that heart-thumping thrill ride that's lacking in recent times for the genre fans.
Maybe I had too high of hopes for this. I never, well I try to avoid watching the TV ads and I don't make a habit of watching trailers. Nonetheless I had a pretty good notion of what this film was about and I had really thought maybe this was going to deliver something new that I hadn't seen before. The story was interesting enough for a decent viewing experience & it did have some good frightening scenes spread thinly throughout. Overall it was mainly a psychological thriller and was hardly a horror film, so if you're thinking you're going to be in for any kind of brilliant sci-fi visual experience you won't get much more than very thin "shades" of the most commonly used interpretations of what an alien being looks like. Also don't expect any visual horror scenes because there is little more than a bit of head banging. With a budget of $3.5 million the film relied heavily on story & acting, but laid off on the CGI. Overall it's cast did a fine job & it's production value was as good as any other Hollywood film. While I believe it will hold peoples attention, I doubt many people will be walking out of the theater saying wow or OMG brilliant! The plot was very similar to many other alien abduction films, which made it somewhat predictable right down to the final scene, which contained little more than a very very slight turn of events. Should you run to the theaters or otherwise to see this film, no, but it's still a pretty good watch and do recommend seeing it at your convenience, it's a solid 7/10
Being a fan of supernatural, science fiction movies such as Fire In The
Sky, The Forgotten, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Knowing, The
Arrival, Contact, Night Skies etcetera I had high hopes for Dark Skies.
The result was a better than average genre mash up that borrows
elements from the best including my all time favorite horror film
Poltergeist. The story was gripping that involves a suburban family
that we instantly relate to and care about, making the chilling events
that follow effective and downright surreal. The film takes an
old-school approach when it comes to developing the story and
characters and delivering the frights, which might be too much of a
slow burn for fans of fast paced horror flicks. I happen to like how
the film took its time delivering the details and made it a suspenseful
and mind boggling watch even if it raises more questions than answers.
In real life though, there is events out there that were can't explain
or have answers for, which makes this quote even the more true that
showed at the beginning of this film: "Two possibilities exist: either
we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. Both are equally
terrifying." Arthur C. Clarke
The performances hit it home for me even though it wasn't always as emotionally powerful as it should have been. Keri Russell isn't in enough movies as she should be, but when she does make a movie her performances are always genuine and for surprisingly her horror film, this role fits like a glove and gives a raw and layered performance. Keri plays wife and mother of two boys Lacy Barrett, who is a struggling realtor trying to make ends meet while her husband Daniel Barrett played effortlessly by Josh Hamilton, tries desperately to find a better job to support their family. Right away their peaceful suburban life is turned upside down when they become under attack by strange supernatural forces. The child stars of this film were also impressive. Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett give natural and unflinching performances as the sons Jesse Barrett and Sam Barrett, who are just as confused and terrified of the strange events as their parents, but also show their own coming of age story on the side. J.K. Simmons gives a standout performance as Edwin Pollard, a man that the parents turn to for help as he knows exactly what they are going through, for he has dealt with the presence for some time. His role could of gone on the silly side but it was handled with such seriousness that you to will be on the edge of your seat with his accusations.
Director and writer, Scott Stewart delivers a nice change of pace and more of a restraint here compared to his other films Legion, which I was one of the few that actually enjoyed it and Priest, which I haven't seen yet but want to soon. This type of style seems to be more of his niche and has a more plausible approach even if he doesn't have answers for but that's fine because in real life we don't as well. I like that he went with mood, suspense, characters and story over cheap scares, over use of CGI and gore which makes the film have an old-school vibe which brought me back to horror movies of the past like Poltergeist mixed with The X-Files, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Signs for instance. The Fact that he waits until the end to reveal the creepy beings make you sit in constant suspense, even though they could of done a much better job with their digital appearance and gone with more natural FX to make the reveal all the more terrifyingly effective. It could of been worse though so it was fine; the ending leaves you on a cliffhanger and has possibilities of a sequel in the future that I'm very intrigued by and hope they go through with one.
Overall, another horror movie out of left field that is way better than what most critics make it out to be. It's a shame that not a whole lot of people went to go see it, as it might be the more decent horror films of the year, so far at least. If you like slow burn horror movies with suspense, you will probably enjoy this but don't expect a whole lot of action or scares just a slow building nightmare.
'DARK SKIES': Three Stars (Out of Five)
A science fiction thriller about a family terrorized by an unknown force which may be extraterrestrial in origin. It was written and directed by Scott Stewart (who also helmed the sci-fi thrillers 'LEGION' and 'PRIEST'). It stars Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, J.K. Simmons, Dakota Goyo (of 'REAL STEEL' fame) and Kadan Rockett. The movie is a routine suspense thriller/horror film but it does have some good scares and creepy imagery.
The film revolves around the Barrett family, who live in the suburbs, struggling to get by while Mr. Barrett, Daniel (Hamilton), tries to find work. Lacy Barrett is a real-estate agent who's struggling to sell a house while her oldest son Jesse (Goyo) is discovering girls. Strange occurrences begin happening in the families' home, involving food in the kitchen, and what first looks like a possible intruder turns into Daniel and Lacy questioning their youngest son Sam's (Rockett) mental stability. Weirder things keep happening though and they soon begin involving the other family members as well.
The movie is kind of slow-paced at times but it has enough good scares throughout to keep it going. It's a little like a 'PARANORMAL ACTIVITY' film except better (in my opinion). It also seems influenced by two Spielberg flicks; 'CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND' and 'POLTERGEIST'. 'POLTERGEIST' is one of my all time favorite movies in this genre and to say a film resembles it at all is quite a compliment. This film isn't nearly as creative, fun or memorable but it does work as just a thriller. Not a great scary movie but a little better than average.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I came in to this movie not knowing it was anything but an 'Alien
movie.' I expected it to be some cheesy B-rated style thriller with
cheesy 'pop out at your face' moments, but was pleasantly surprised at
the quality of the movie.
The actors did a very nice job at their parts, and there were parts where I was left dumbfounded at how the little kids did their parts so well. (Trying not to give spoilers!)
The movie did a very nice job of leaving the viewer with a sense of fear long after the movie had ended. when I walked out of the theater, I, along with almost all of the other movie-goers, were slightly shaking. As long as you are not too critical to minor details in the movie, it was an excellent flick to give you a good sci-fi scare. I will probably be taking a friend to see this movie in theaters soon.
I have to admit i'm very surprised with this movie, also i'm surprised that its getting low ratings, i guess crap like paranormal activity is whats popular around... Anyway, this is by far the most scary movie in the last 10 years, i could dare anyone to name another movie that can deliver the scare in a better way than this?... yes there are a LOT of clichés, but they are so well done, that it doesn't matter.. Also the acting is simply TOP-notch, which adds so much to the plot... Im a big fan of mashup genres, and this is a great mixture of sci-fi and horror, it takes elements from many other movies, which is not a bad thing at all... The ending leads (hopefully) to a sequel, i really think it deserves one...
Not knowing exactly what we were in for, having seen only a trailer or two, we were very pleasantly surprised. The last "alien" movie we went to was "Signs", which really soured our opinion of these types of movies. We are interested in the phenomenon and this movie actually handled the subject quite well. For those of us with an interest in the field, it was very believable and it was written well. The pace of the movie made it seem over too quickly - I was ready for more! I left the theater feeling pretty stressed, partly because of the suspense and partly because the characters made their struggle so believable. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone with an open mind. My husband is a much better film critic than I, and he really liked it too, which is interesting because he is typically drawn to movies with a fantasy component or a lot of computer-generated scenes. Again, having an interest in the phenomenon ourselves, this movie made it very real for us.
An interesting ride would pretty much sum up my experience of this
The director did a smart job in the beginning by introducing the subject slowly and gradually in the sense that although we knew something was not quite right with this suburban house, he did not rush to bombard us with any massive amounts of visuals or gory scenes thus leaving us both intrigued and in anticipation mode. That is a technique not commonly used and achieving that takes skill.
Following that, the story runs smoothly as our characters go from surprise, to shock, then disbelief and acceptance. Good choice of adult and children actors, in combination to the gradual built up made this an stimulating watch.
It was the climax that I found to be rather anticlimactic. Nothing innovative, or even new. Whilst it never ceased to be thrilling, let's be clear about that, somehow the overdoing of visuals and certain ambiguities concerning the unfolding of the final moments left me somewhat colder.
Still, it is a highly effective and watchable thriller.
This really was the best alien-movie i have ever seen. There was lot of
things happening throughout the whole movie, and i never got bored. It
also feature a few surprises which at least i could not see coming, and
the ending came totally out of the blue.
I would recommend this movie to anybody looking for a good and entertaining movie, which will send numerous chills down their spines. But i do think that even the most serious watchers of movies about alien invasions and such (not talking Will Smith now), will find this film quite entertaining.
It puts stuff in your mind you probably will want to get rid of as soon as possible, and it definitely gives pictures to the worst nightmare that could happen to parents.
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