Dark Skies (2013)

Genre: Sci-fi, Horror

Director: Scott Stewart

Writers: Scott Stewart

Staring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo

Rating: ★★★★

It’s not very often sci-fi films attempt to horrify their audiences, I can’t think of many successful attempts in fact since M. Night Shyamalan’s 2001 Signs and its that film coincidently that Dark Skies plays very much to. Films focusing on “aliens” all have the potential to be frightening due to the real life possibly of their existence, well for some, however it’s making them believable within the film that decides its success. Dark Skies does this with intelligence, using the slow burning approach and showing the protagonists at the end. For me the Dark Skies is a suspense, thrilling sci-fi horror with a great storyline, cast and crew.

Throughout the film we follow the Barrett family, peacefully living life in the suburbs they are then shadowed by a series of disturbing events that eventually leads them to find out a deadly force is after them. The family as a whole is already experiencing their own individual problems but those that won’t compare to what awaits for them. Lacey and Daniel (Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton) the parents and head of the household are both struggling with their jobs and have a money issue causing conflict in their relationship, whereas their kids Sam and Jesse (Kadan Rockett, Dakota Goyo) are struggling to fit in and make friends. The family is slowly drifting apart, something that they have to change especially to survive.

As previously mentioned a series of unexplained disturbing events occur, I shall not reveal those but allow for yourself to be surprised and entertained. Somewhat desperate and obviously terrified Lacey and Daniel seek help in form of a specialist, Edwin Pollard a researcher who follows those haunted by this deadly force. He explains how “the grays” have taken over and are preying on the Barret family, it is then the most terrifying thought for an audience occurs as he explains “people think of aliens as these beings invading our planet in some great cataclysm, destroying monuments and our natural resources. Bits it’s not like that at all. The invasion already happened”. It gives you shivers and from this point on the film breaks free and the action you come to expect happens all in a thrilling, amazing and simply brilliant final half hour.

The storyline can be viewed as bland or plain and predictable it’s easy to see why, however the twist in this film steers Dark Skies away from those negative labels. Scott Stewart writer and director plays homage to Signs (2001), although there’s no tin foil hat scene there is the typical “last supper” and small connections such as kids drawings, and the story of their first Fourth of July. Is this pure laziness? A lack of original ideas? For me Stewart has highlighted the success of Signs and is simply trying to replicate that, just like those play homage to such classics.

The acting was good, something you’d come to expect from a big release. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton make for a believable portrayal of parents, worrying as a mother and being the “let off” as a dad. However I do feel if this film missed a trick or a key element it’s that stereotypical sci-fi eery score that makes those hairs stand up on the back of your neck. The special effects were also decent however making our protagonists very un-detailed is slightly disappointing as it could have been the difference between this film being a classic and just a cinema release.

In the whole Dark Skies is a great film and a good horror, when compared to those released around the same time it certainly wins. It’s possibly for me my favourite film with Extratestorials since Signs however it doesn’t quite beat it. If you’re looking for a very watchable film that has some scares and will keep you entertained then it’s certainly one to watch. This could possibly be one of my favourite films of this year, and in my view it’s simply great although flaws and room for improvement it’s certainly more than worth viewing.