Sometimes you just get lucky. I’ve seen Dark Skies pop up on my TV for weeks, so last night I said, ‘what the heck, I’ll buy it.’ And I’m glad I did.
Overall, Dark Skies was an impressive new horror movie. It gave me hope that some people know how to make a good horror movie, and other directors and producers should pay attention. It was well shot and planned, and it has major rewatch value.
Let’s dig in. Here are a few of highlights from the movie: Contains spoilers!
The Plot Is Refreshing
I cannot express how satisfying it is to include the plot in this review. Dark Skies tells the story of a family who becomes ‘haunted’ – not the house, the family. Think The Conjuring but with the whole family. However, ghosts do not haunt them; aliens do. I know it sounds odd at first, but embrace it. They are creepier than you think. Also, the movie plays a constant mind game with the audience, but it’s done so well you don’t realize it until the very end.
Note to Hollywood: The plot different but not stupid. It moves quickly, but there are few if any plot holes. It’s not a remake (thank goodness!). If a plot has been done 20 times in the last five years, don’t make the movie.
A Real Family
Every family has issues, money problems, stress, etc. sometimes. The Barrets have normal problems like unemployment and money issues, but I was thrilled that neither parent was an alcoholic. I think Hollywood throws alcohol into the mix to create a crazy scene or break a character down, but sometimes it’s not necessary. The villain should do the job and break down the characters.
The parents (Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton) have stress that affects their relationship, but they also work on the issues. They try to care for and love their kids. The brothers are close – adorable even – but they still have their own friends and interests. The Barrets feel real and believable, and you can’t blame them for the haunting. They are a normal 21st-century family.
Note to Hollywood: The actors did an amazing job. There were few special effects, and my awesome RevPub partner pointed out, “it was just actors doing good job of being weird.” Also, pay attention to the scene with J.K. Simmons. It was a clear, concise way to explain everything. It also has a great line, “Nothing. Nothing makes you special.”
I could do a post on the aliens alone. They torture this family, and it starts immediately. First, there are “break-ins” (the cop is an idiot by the way). Then the Barrets start to lose complete control. They have time lapses, become “possessed”, and do some crazy and creepy things. The audience never sees a Gray up close, which is awesome because it reduces the possibility of stupid effects. The Grays take this family over, and it eventually leads to abduction. They’re threatening, and it feels like it could happen to anyone. There’s no escape.
Note to Hollywood: Not seeing the monster is an effective way to scare an audience. It’s much more subtle.
Closure Is Everything
Ending a horror movie well remains one of the biggest obstacles in the genre. It’s hard to do because there are variables, and they can all feel the same. Dark Skies did it, though. The story ties into itself, a sequel is possible, no one jumps out or into the camera for a cheap scare. The aliens abduct a family member. Everything is not dismal or perfect. The Grays won, but at least the family survived, and there’s hope. It ended better than most modern horror movies, and I appreciate that.
Note to Hollywood: Stop using jump/cheap scares at the end. It’s getting annoying and repetitive.
I could go on and on about this movie, but I suggest seeing it yourself. If you’re on the fence about the alien thing, just go with it. I was a little skeptical at first because I was scared it was going to be dumb, but it wasn’t. Dark Skies is an effective, fun scary movie.
Feel free to let us know what you think about it in the comments below!