This weekend in a film far, far fetched away….
The Barretts have more than enough on their plate than to worry about close encounters of the third kind (with or without nicely sculpted mashed potatoes). Daniel ( Josh Hamilton) is an out of work father of two sons watching the bills pile up and watching his marriage to Lacy (Keri Russell) start to hit its breaking point. Their oldest son, Jesse, (Dakota Goyo) is hitting puberty and his best friend is a pothead that Daniel calls rat-face.
Dark Skies has an intriguing story angle that isn’t overused. The tight “home intrusion” story that plays more horror than sci-fi lends itself to more than a few jump scares. Also, the casting of Kerri Russell (Waitress) gives an acting anchor sorely needed by portraying a mother going through unimaginable circumstances.
Three strikes and you’re out Scott Stewart… Having directed critical and box office duds Legion, and Priest, Stewart whiffs and misses on his latest, Dark Skies. Love the genre blend of alien/horror/thriller pic, but for every classic such as The Thing (1983) and Fire in the Sky you’ve got the exterrestrial duds like The Thing (2012) and The Fourth Kind. Dark Skies falls in the latter category; minus some jump thrills here and there, this is a forgettably silly light on the fright flick.
Stewart, who also wrote the screenplay, doesn’t mind borrowing a little here and there. Early alien shenanigans show a kitchen stacking scene that’s ripped right from Poltergeist, and when the worried father Daniel puts up home security cameras to canvass every move in the house, its hard to think of anything else than Paranormal Activity. Produced by Jason Blum, this pretty much mirrors the model of his previous work of Insidious and Sinister only to come up well short of those two.
The youngest son Sam (Kadan Rockett) may not realize it, but he’s a compilation of every other little creepy kid in horror movies; an annoying cutesy quiet kid who starts inexplicably staring off into space with the inability to communicate (basic ideas that would shorten the film dramatically).
The prolific J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man) shows up as supernatural expert for a scene, a paycheck, and to be eventual trailer padding as he explains what the Barrett family is going through and can tragically look forward to. “The Greys” as he calls them, are invading space aliens (communism parable??) who think of us like mice in a science experiment and have nothing better to do than cause family discord. Don’t the aliens know that Ke$ha and Honey Boo Boo already did that for them? The lengths these home space invaders go to is kind of ridiculous. Sure, it’s freaky-deaky to watch three different migrations of birds crash into the Barrett house. but just think of the work that would take just to get a rise out of us mere mortals.
Dark Skies wasn’t given a good star map. Overall it’s just droll moviemaking that doesn’t make the most of the otherworldly characters, and by the end veers off into a low IQ gun fight with “The Greys” and a bizarre twist that really is so out of place it belongs back in its own solar system.
Take a Drink: whenever the Barrett house experiences weird phenomenas.
Take a Drink: whenever any of the Barretts experience physical traumas.
Down a Shot: whenever a “Grey” is sighted.