Dark Skies

Directed By: Scott Stewart

Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, and Dakota Goyo

It's Oscar weekend.  I'm happy to say that we're at the end of another lengthy awards season.  While it means that awards shows are thankfully at an end, it also means that we're almost through the worst part of the year for moviegoers.  The key word there is almost.  Unfortunately, snoozers are still crowding movie theaters.  This weekend, the new snoozer at the box office goes by the name of Dark Skies, and it's a bizarre sci-fi horror film that will do anything but scare you.

The Barrett family has a lot of problems.  Daniel (Josh Hamilton) has lost his job.  Lacy (Keri Russell), a real estate agent, is having trouble making any sales.  Their son Jesse (Dakota Goyo) hangs out with an older loser all the time watching porn and getting high.  To make matters worse, strange things are happening around their home at night.  Somebody cleans out their refrigerator one night and leaves the evidence all over their kitchen floor.  Someone builds a structure made of cans, bottles, and vases that projects some foreign symbol on their kitchen ceiling.  When three migrations of birds fly directly into their house and the blackouts begin, Daniel and Lacy begin to suspect that there's something more happening here.  They believe it may have something to do with their youngest son Sam (Kadan Rockett) who "dreams" about someone called the Sandman, the one whom he thinks is responsible for all these mysterious occurrences.  Little do they know who the Sandman really is or what he means for their struggles.  They're just lab rats.

Dark Skies is a hard film to watch.  It's just so bland and boring.  It's basically a sci-fi Paranormal Activity without the mockumentary style of filmmaking.  Nothing fresh or exciting can come of that.  In a nutshell, strange things happen around the Barrett home at night.  The family puts cameras in the house to monitor said things.  All things point to some other being not of this world.  It's all been done to death already.  The only interesting twist in this otherwise stale premise is that this is a post-invasion alien movie.  It's a world where the aliens are already here, and there's nothing we can do about it. 

The actors give mediocre performances and never really make emotional connections with the audience.  They give us no reason to care about their characters or what tragedies befall them.  As Lacy, Keri Russell gives a rather aloof performance and leaves a lot to be desired.  As Daniel, Josh Hamilton isn't much better and brings very little passion to the screen.  Given his atrocious performance as the Barretts’ oldest son Jesse, Dakota Goyo (Real Steel, Rise of the Guardians) really should consider taking some time off and going to an acting school.  His performances were always somewhat annoying when he was younger and that's only been amplified now that he's a preteen.  Attempts at cute moments like the scenes with Goyo on a walkie talkie as "Command Control" don't work anymore.

Dark Skies lacks the most important thing for a science fiction thriller — actual thrills.  There's no fear factor despite half-assed attempts by director Scott Stewart.  Pumping up the music at key moments isn't enough.  There has to be a certain level of suspense that culminates in some shocking, thrilling moment.  There has to be some buildup to it.  Otherwise, attempts at creating thrills will fall flat, and they certainly do so in Stewart's movie.

When Dark Skies finally does get interesting after an hour or so of torture, it comes to a bizarre, abrupt conclusion.  After enduring all the boring minutiae of the film, the payoff is just not that rewarding.  It's unfortunate because this film could have been so much better with stronger writing and direction.  As it stands, I need a tequila sunrise or two to get through this one.  Dark Skies gets a 0.09% rating.  If you're not wasting time on flicks in theaters, tweet with us during the Oscars!