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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Movie Review: Dark Skies

Every few years or so, a movie comes along which perpetuates the popular notion that "we are not alone!" For several decades, it has been strongly suggested that extra-terrestrial aliens are in fact among us and frequently abduct people. This phenomenon has been explored in many real-life accounts ever since the famous abduction case of Betty and Barney Hill in 1961. Since then, alien abduction has become a popular subject in books and movies including: Communion (1989) starring Christopher Walken, based on the book by Whitley StrieberFire In The Sky (1993) starring D.B. Sweeney, based on the story of Travis Walton, and was also recently featured in the film Signs (2002), directed by . This highly controversial and disturbing subject is explored again in the recent release Dark Skies, directed by Scott Stewart (Legion (2009), Priest (2011)) and starring Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton.
Lacy and Daniel Barrett are a struggling, modern, suburban family. While Daniel searches for a job in an architectural firm, Lacy works as an overly-honest real estate agent. Their two boys, Jesse and Sam are relatively normal and share a close relationship. While the family has to deal with the usual suburban troubles such as overdue bills and mortgage, suddenly, strange things begin to happen in the house that threatens the safety of the family. First, it seems like mere harmless pranks as their kitchen is raided, doors are left open in the middle of the night, and then all of a sudden flocks of birds bombard their house with no explanation! When the Barretts install a security system and cameras in the house, they slowly realize that they are being "visited". As strange occurrences and behaviors happen more frequently, the Barrett's begin to fear for their lives and seek out help and the means to defend themselves against this "other-worldly" threat!
Like most alien visitation/abduction stories, the victims involved usually do not realize they are being visited or taken until it's too late. Consumed by doubt and disbelief, the Barrett family is no different and although a number of strange and unexplainable events occur they never fully accept the truth in what is happening to them. Dark Skies is an interesting story full of tense and surprising moments but ultimately comes to a predictable end. After everything that happens, you actually feel for the character of Lacy the most as she ultimately comes to the improbable, however correct conclusion, although she finds it impossible to convince her husband of the truth. The fact that children are involved, especially their young son Sam makes the situation even more terrifying and unsettling.
The aliens in Dark Skies as it has been revealed are somewhat different from the typical "Grays" that have been depicted in almost every case of alien contact, popularized in the book/movie Communion, however as these aliens start out somewhat playful and curious, even benevolent beings, it is not all together unexpected when they turn into a malevolent threat towards the climax of the movie.
While Dark Skies seems original there are some very noticeable similarities to 's film Signs, particularly towards the end as the family prepare for the final visit from the aliens by boarding up the house and afterwards have a solemn dinner while reminiscing about happy moments with their children. There are some genuinely terrifying scenes in the film as you only see the creatures for split seconds and often in dark, unexpected moments. There are also a few convincingly suspenseful parts of the movie that successfully achieve the "jump out of your seat" effect. With a somewhat unpredictable twist towards the end, followed by a final, yet disturbing revelation at the end, Dark Skies is a decent thriller that will certainly give you a few goosebumps and may make you want to sleep with the lights and TV on tonight.
LINKS: Dark Skies Official Website, Chosen.org, Dark Skies on Twitter, Dark Skies on Facebook