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Movie Reviews

Dark Skies



dark skiesReleased: 2013

Directed By: Scott Stewart

Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton

Certificate: 15

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

The seemingly endless barrage of Paranormal Activity. Unleashing forces of a ‘Sinister’ nature on Ethan Hawke. Blumhouse Productions have had a major hand in attempting to whip the ‘horror film’ back into shape. With the quality of the genre currently smothered by unnecessary rehashes, this latest assault on audience’s nerves relies on a force of an extra-terrestrial nature. Grey clouds may hang over director Scott Stewart after his initial directorial efforts (Priest/Legion) underwhelmed, can ‘Dark Skies’ lift the gloom?

Based in the American suburbs, we’re greeted by the Barrett family. Headed up by husband and wife Daniel and Lacy (Josh Hamilton and Keri Russell respectively), the communal spirit of their neighbourhood juxtaposes with their frayed tempraments behind closed doors. Providing for their two kids, Jesse consumed by the obligatory teenage angst (Dakota Goyo) and the reserved Sam (Kadan Rockett), is an ongoing battle as they struggle to acclimatise to the tough economic climate.

However, the latest attack on their livelihoods is far from straightforward. Beginning with meticulous kitchen ‘pile-ups’ and mysterious breaches of security and their privacy, soon escalates into consistent attacks on their well-being and their home. Perplexed, Lacy and Daniel slowly embrace the possibility they are a part of an alien agenda, instilled into their fractured minds by a well spoken ‘expert’ played by J.K. Simmons.

‘Dark Skies’ encapsulates the current trend with the horror genre. In a premise strikingly reminiscent of M.Night Shyamalan’s 2002 film ‘Signs’, Stewart establishes the lurking threat effectively using deliberate aerial shots for emphasis with steady ‘pans’ notching up the levels of eeriness. His nods to the superiors of the genre however prove hit and miss. The introduction of surveillance analysis proves a blatant attempt to remain relevant, however a Hitchcockian-style homage as a swarm of birds attack the window, is memorable.

Whilst the relatability of its domesticated and financially stricken setting adds heft to proceedings, ‘Skies’ sadly succumbs to its frustratingly formulaic approach with the pace of proceedings becoming increasingly laboured. Shame, as the film is well performed. Increasingly common with such fare, the younger contingent of Goyo and Rockett thoroughly convince as Keri Russell’s Lacy conveys enough emotion to make up for Josh Hamilton’s cynical Daniel. The key drawback here is Simmon’s Edwin Pollard, whom is terrific in his limited screen time and perhaps could have added an intriguing narrative layer with more character development.

The occasionally potent scare and impressive albeit piercing sound design aside, ‘Dark Skies’ is a well-intentioned yet distinctly average entry deterred by its too tame approach and unimaginative execution.

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