REVIEW: Dark Skies

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You are neither cold nor hot. So because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth.” – Gangs of New York or the Bible, take your pick.  Either way, it fairly sums up my feelings about Dark Skies. Early looks had given me hope – scary sci-fi is as rare as a unicorn fart – but it turned out to be just one more instance of trailer hype.

The problem is that Dark Skies is a movie with an identity crises. Sure, there’s the obvious – is it horror/sci-fi, or is it sci-fi/horror? But its schizophrenia runs even deeper. More than just a liberal borrowing of popular tropes, this movie seems more like a direct rip-off of other films. Signs, Paranormal Activity, Insidious – they all make an equally strong appearance.

dark-skies-3Dark Skies isn’t without it’s moments – some scenes do succeed in inducing a case of the heebie-jeebies – but what’s frustrating is the lost opportunity to do something unique, and this movie doesn’t have a single unique bone in it’s body! Using a little kid’s creepy crayon drawing as a device to reveal the spooky antagonist is something that needs to be retired.  Oh, that and also what I like to call the “weary expert” – the person the family calls as a last resort (a priest, a psychic, a professor, etc.) These things are so tired, they’re only fit for a Marlon Wayans parody film.

As you would expect, the characters are also of the cookie-cutter variety, with personalities that range from annoying to cloying – the desperate mom who questions her sanity, the skeptic dad, the troubled teen, and the cute but endangered child – all present and accounted for.

dark-skies-2To read this review probably makes it sound as if I didn’t enjoy Dark Skies at all, which isn’t entirely true.  It’s a decent enough popcorn film for a Saturday matinee – or a Redbox rental.  It’s like my dad used to say, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. This screenwriting laziness has got to stop!”

OK, he never said that last part, but if he’d seen this film, I’m pretty sure he would have.

Dark Skies was written and directed by Scott Stewart, whose previous credits include Priest and Legion, and while neither of those were exactly blockbusters, this movie is definitely a step backward. It also stars Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett, and Keri Russell whom I just can’t seem to picture without her “Felicity” fro.

Rating: 2.5/5 ★★½☆☆ 

 

 

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About Dave_P

Dave_P studied fine arts and film history and is a graphic and web designer, and a diehard movie fan. David has been involved with a variety film festivals including the Cinephile Film Festival, the PRIDE Film festival, and the Manhattan Short Film festival, and is currently the director of the Dark Carnival Film Fest in Bloomington, Indiana. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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