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Sometimes you just wish those aliens would just hurry up and abduct these idiots already....
Anchor Bay / 97 Minutes / 2013 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: May 28, 2013
The Arthur C. Clarke quote that opens Dark Skies is one of the authors creepiest and most inspiringly smart ever: “Two possibilities exist. Either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” Coupled with some seriously room-shaking subwoofer action, this eerie, unsettling sentiment should (theoretically) set the stage for a dark, E.T.-gone-bad invasion thriller that should at the very least offer up a few strained scares.
Yet Dark Skies makes a mockery of Clarke’s telling quote and reverts to trite horror cliché without batting an eye. As the Barrett family finds themselves a target of a ‘mysterious’ force that threatens to ruin their lives and murder their children, viewers simply stop caring all that much. During an intimate bedroom moment where Daniel (Josh Hamilton) finally decides to embrace wife Lacy’s (Keri Russell’s) ideas that extraterrestrial powers might be at hand, he coos: “I’m ready to believe.” The effect is so on-the-nose and plain that it’s hard not to root for the aliens to do their worst.
The Dark Skies trailer was fairly ubiquitous in cinemas earlier this year, and as a full ninety-minute film, this Blu-ray edition pretty much presents a super-elongated version of that coming attraction. The Barretts become submerged in a terror that cannot be explained, and things just keep get worse and worse – even an intervention from a paranormal expert (J.K. Simmons) doesn’t help – until a noisy conclusion is reached.
If you can make it to this conclusion, that is: Dark Skies offers up some of 2013’s worst dialogue - “Why are they so interested in US? What makes US so special?” “Nothing.” – and not even visits from spindly CGI space-dudes can salvage the torpedoing nightmare at hand here. I’m sure this sounds overly harsh, but when it comes to alien abduction freakout movies, the adage that a broken clock is right twice a day usually holds true. In Dark Skies, though, it’s hard to stay interested long enough to prove that.