Despite the mendacity of the trailers, Dark Skies is not a bad film. In another case where the marketing let the film down before it even opened, it isn’t too surprising that audiences did not get too carried away with a film that has been done before. It is almost a case of “Oh look! It’s aliens…again.” And that is the real problem with Dark Skies, it has all been done before and in most cases it was done better.
The film opened to mixed/negative reviews. If we stop and just look at the trailer, it makes sense that folks were not too happy with what they watched after the trailer incorrectly built it up as more of a scary film than it actually was. Suspenseful, yes. Slow, most certainly. Scary…only once, really.
So Dark Skies, apart from being a look it’s an alien…again type of film, was good, just not great and it’s marketing really let it down before anyone actually watched it. Expectations from the trailer gave it a much creepier feel than the film, upon viewing it, did.
Written and directed by Scott Stewart and starring Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton and Dakota Goyo, with a marvellous cameo by J.K. Simmons the film delivers a not too unique look at a family plagued with what appear at first to be a sort of poltergeist activity in their home. The activity shifts gears and direction and becomes an amalgamation of odd behaviour, strange dreams, missing time and disturbing reactions from friends and neighbours.
The family’s eventual acceptance of the cause of all these disturbing occurrences is annoying. Can there really be a family in the world, even the US, who have not heard of alien visitation? Regardless of whether they believe in the reality of such things is a moot point. It defies logic to expect an audience to believe that such a family exists, especially one who uses laptop computers and has a television in most rooms of the house.
That “ignorance” combined with the misleading marketing campaign is what lets the movie down.
Stewart does an excellent job building up the suspense and he should be given a lot of credit for that. In a sub-genre that has definitely been done better and scarier, the fact that he could effectively build suspense is noteworthy. But there was not one moment in the film that had me threatening to lose popcorn (because of a jump scare) or slightly averting my gaze because things were getting too scary.
The devices used in the film’s plot, were nothing new, and the obligatory “eye-opening” sequence was just that, obligatory. Someone had to figure out what was going on, hence the “let’s look this up on the internet” scene. Which, to be honest, would have been done far earlier if the events had really occurred.
But I do have to hold my hand up and admit that I did, despite all the negative things I’ve pointed out, like the film.
I liked the family, and I liked the direction the film took. It just did not scare me and, as I said above, it has been done before. Alien visitation is in the same class as “found film” horror movies. Each one has been done before and, in most cases, only one or two from each sub-genre is really noteworthy. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them. If you like chocolate ice cream, it doesn’t really matter what brand of ice cream you eat. You still enjoy it, just not as much if it is not your favourite brand.
So Dark Skies or as I like to call it, Oh Look It’s Aliens…Again, is an entertaining film. But not one that I would rush out and buy for my Blu Ray collection, and it definitely isn’t a film I would want to watch again. The movie did not “freak” me out as much as The Fourth Kind, which I don’t watch repeatedly for a different reason, but it was better than average. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.