“Halloween Twenty-Fifteen”: A Review of “Dark Skies” (2013)


“Once you’ve been chosen, you belong to them.” I would like to first give credit to director Scott Stewart for his work here on Dark Skies. He manages to give us a very atypical science fiction film, in what has become a hokey and predictable sub-genre: alien abductions. From start to finish, this film is bleak and brooding, relentless in its sheer terror through acting and atmosphere, not special effects. While I have seen better, Dark Skies stands out for those reasons, giving us something a little bit darker and deeper than we are used to.

There is a family being terrorized by unseen forces in their home. At first, they think its burglars when the mother (Keri Russell) has uneasy feelings when she wakes up at night. After items begin to get rearranged and go missing, they suspect their children playing a prank. But things begin to take a terrifying turn as her and her husband (Josh Hamilton) soon realize they are being attacked by something not of this world. They all start to have nightmares, blackouts, lose track of time, start behaving strangely, and their house becomes under siege by flocks of birds who smash into their windows. Under normal circumstances, we would expect ghosts or something paranormal, but in the unique case of this film, the director substitutes aliens who have been studying the family for years and are getting ready to make an abduction.

Recent Oscar-winner J.K Simmons is powerful in a brief cameo as an alien expert who helps the couple with their problems and tells them how to fight back. Is this a horror film, or just a very dark science fiction thriller? I will lean towards the latter. The ending is not exactly predictable, and there are a good amount of twists and turns to keep you interested and guessing what will happen next. This is probably the most well-crafted alien contact film since Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The pacing is deliberate, the acting serious and believable, and as stated earlier, the reliance on special effects is minimal—a very tough task for any science fiction director these days. Also starring Dakota Goyo and Kaden Rockett.

7 out of 10 stars.

More articles in this special “Halloween Twenty-Fifteen” column can be found here.

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