I won’t lie, when I first saw the trailer for The Darkest Hour I was intrigued, excited even. I thought, “hey this looks like a genuinely interesting and fresh take on alien films and Emile Hirsch is in it so it can’t be that bad.” Despite the numerous sideways glances and scoffs I received from my peers, my enthusiasm never waned.
I was positive that if this film was set for a Christmas Day release then surely studios were confident in The Darkest Hour’s ability to draw viewers. What I didn’t think of was the fact that maybe, just maybe, The Darkest Hour was so bad that studios gave it a major holiday release because that was the only way to ensure that curious patrons with nothing else to do on Christmas day would see it. Shame on me for being such a sucker and trusting studios as much as I did.
“Seriously guys, WHY????!”
In this crappy attempt at an alien attack film, two young entrepreneurs Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) venture to Moscow to pitch their new website/social media idea to a major company; however, upon their arrival they discover that Swedish businessman Sklar (John Kinnaman) has taken their idea and is now presenting it as his own. Because of the lack of regulations against stealing ideas in Russia, Sean and Ben are now out of hope and a business which results in them spending the night drinking their sorrows away in a Moscow bar where they meet American traveler Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and her friend Anne (Rachael Taylor). The foursome embark in a night of drinking, forced banter, lame jokes and lamer wisecracks until a power outage in the city reveals that luminous objects falling from the sky are actually deadly alien beings that turn its victims into dust upon contact. Desperate for survival the small group of relative strangers must find a way out of Moscow and back to their homes without being turned into dust.
Like Russia isn’t filled with dust already, AMIRITE? Sorry Russia.
In the way that a preschool teacher or parent of a toddler admires a child’s feeble attempts at a daring task such as hula hooping or juggling is the same way I admired The Darkest Hour for its attempt to be different. The aliens featured in the film are invisible to the human eye, only making their presence visible to the characters due to the electrical reaction that takes place when they are near. The aliens feed off electromagnetic waves from humans and from within the Earth, even creating mining towers to feed off copper and other Earthly minerals. Gold digging aliens is an interesting premise that I gotta admit at least deserves kudos for its distinctiveness.
Despite its attempts to be a “smart” and “different” alien attack film, The Darkest Hour is probably one of the most trite and predictable alien attack films I’ve ever seen. There’s no air of mystery in The Darkest Hour and nearly every death or major event is grossly foreshadowed through tight close ups on objects or annoyingly explicit repetitive cuts to the person who is soon about to meet their death. Assholes die because of their arrogance, characters die because of their weakness and lack of trust, and the main dude saves the day like every other movie you’ve ever seen in your entire life.
A good ways into the film I decided to send out individual texts to my friends and loved ones to wish them a Merry Christmas and make plans for the night. However, halfway into wishing an old friend a Merry Christmas my eyes caught sight of the time and I was sorely disappointed to discover that I had a good 45 minutes left to watch of the film. The Darkest Hour is simply boring. Perhaps that comes with its stunning ability to be so predictable or perhaps because the writing is so bland and dry or maybe even because the acting is pretty hellish in its own right—screw it, it’s all three.
In being an alien attack/dystopia film, The Darkest Hour is inevitably compared to its contemporaries such as Independence Day, Mars Attack, Cloverfield, and Attack the Block. The Darkest Hour isn’t even a blip on the radar when compared to these films. The CGI of The Darkest Hour is not only less than impressive but it’s almost amateur at times and reminded me of the cheap computer graphics featured throughout Adult Swim’s television show Tim and Eric. Furthermore, unlike its contemporaries there are barely any likable characters in The Darkest Hour; everyone is so underdeveloped that the only reason a viewer may find themselves rooting for their safety is because that’s the character the camera is focused on.
Way creepier than the aliens featured in The Darkest Hour.
Really… you expect me to believe that four characters are stuck in a supply room for over four days and when they emerge they look just as good as they did when they entered!? Anne and Natalie somehow keep their makeup and hair immaculate in spite of the fact that they are in constant fear and are being chased nearly every minute of the day while also sleeping on floors and not showering. Come on Chris Gorak, how stupid do you think I am? Stupid enough to buy a ticket?… well yeah you’re right about that.
The Darkest Hour is just bad, even more so because such a talent like Emile Hirsch was wasted on such a simple and underwhelming film. It’s one of those films that should only be watched if you have an abundant amount of channels through satellite or cable and after endless hours of channel surfing you see it on and decide against reading a book. Otherwise your life will be better spent taking a walk outside, cleaning your room, or reading the ingredients on a bottle of shampoo.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you question why the characters don’t just use glass to protect themselves
Take a Drink: every time a Russian accent makes you laugh
Take a Drink: every time something supposed to be funny is said and you don’t laugh
Take a Drink: every time you wonder about the roaming pets in the film.