Dark Skies (15)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarNo StarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner04/04/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Dark Skies is a watchable supernatural thriller with a handful of effectively creepy moments, but it's let down by a clichéd script, a lack of imagination and a soporific lead performance from Keri Russell.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Scott Stewart (Legion, Priest), Dark Skies stars Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton as married couple Lacy and Daniel Barrett, who live with their two young sons, pre-teen Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and five year old Sam (Kadan Rockett) in a peaceful suburban neighbourhood. As if their day-to-day recession-based woes weren't bad enough, the couple begin experiencing an escalating series of spooky goings-on, ranging from unexplained security breaches and weird pranks to mass avian suicide when three flocks of birds simultaneously crash into their house.

Eventually ruling out coincidence, Lacy and Daniel bring the investigative powers of Google into play and soon come to believe that they are being targeted by extraterrestrial beings. And when they seek the advice of alien expert Edwin Pollard (J.K. Simmons), they discover the full horror of their situation.

The Good
Dark Skies is on relatively solid ground for the early part of the film, depicting a believable family with relatable, recession-based problems and an emerging parent-teenager conflict as Jesse starts hanging out with ‘unsuitable’ new friend Kevin Ratner (L.J. Benet); naturally, when the early extraterrestrial pranks occur (furniture rearranged at midnight, photographs hidden), it's Jesse that gets the blame. Similarly, Goyo and Hamilton deliver solid, engaging performances, while gifted character actor J.K. Simmons makes the most of his sadly limited screentime as Pollard.

In addition, Stewart orchestrates a handful of effectively creepy moments, most notably the bird attack scene and some sequences that are basically direct lifts from the Paranormal Activity franchise.

The Bad
The main problem is that the script is painfully clichéd and lacks imagination, to the point where there's nothing new here at all, especially not if you've ever seen an alien abduction movie or were a devotee of The X-Files. The film is also let down by a typically soporific, emotionally blank lead performance from Keri Russell, who makes it near impossible to empathise with Lacy, since she's apparently incapable of registering anything approaching actual terror.

The script also suffers from the occasional misjudged, shout-at-the-screen moment that takes you out of the film, such as characters shutting endangered characters in a room to keep them safe, when it's been clearly established the aliens can get through closed doors.

Worth seeing?
Dark Skies is a competently made supernatural thriller that gets points for its effectively creepy atmosphere but is ultimately let down by an over-familiar, unimaginative script and a painful lead performance from Keri Russell.

Film Trailer

Dark Skies (15)
Dark Skies has been reviewed by 1 users
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 21/09/2018 18:20

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films