Dark Skies

Low budget horror strikes again!

For this newest horror offering, we are introduced to Daniel and Lacy Barrett (Josh "not the baseball player" Hamilton and Keri Russell) along with their two sons: Jesse and Sammy (Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett). The film paints the family as a normal suburban family in a typical suburban neighborhood. Director Scott Stewart really tries his hardest to try and have this neighborhood and family resonate with the audience. As stated, he tries. Too hard.

To add dramatic tension to the film, Daniel has been unemployed for multiple months and that puts a strain on the rest of the family. The sons communicate via walkie-talkie (I wonder if those will provide any pay offs) while Daniel and Lacy struggle to find a way to pay for their very-nice house and all those fancy things that struggling families in films somehow are able to live with.

One night, strange things begin happening within the house. Pictures begin disappearing, items in the house are moved around and other small things. Daniel believes that one of their sons is responsible for the ballyhoo occurring in the house. Both sons deny causing the mischief so Daniel decides to activate the security system in the house (you know, with all income that Daniel has coming in).

Eventually, each member of the family begins experiencing signs of some trauma which leads to Daniel and Lacy seeking out the opinion of alien specialist Edwin Pollard (The always entertaining J.K. Simmons). Edwin informs Daniel and Lacy that he believes that the Barrett family is being visited by aliens. Unknown as to what they exactly want, the Barrett family must band together for the sake of their family.

As sarcastic as part of the review has been so far, the film is not all bad. Yes, director Scott Stewart does really try to hammer home the "normalcy" of the Barrett family. Some actions by the family members; Daniel lying about getting a job that he didn't, for example come off as being there for no reason than to just add some drama and tension. And speaking of Daniel, Josh Hamilton's portrayal is one of the worst performances I have seen so far this year. Josh Hamilton's performance comes off as stiff and wooden and hinders the film.

On the plus side, there are some decent set pieces, especially in the first half of the film. The slow build and setup of the plot does work in the film's favor. Once Edwin Pollard shows up and provides the details that he does, Dark Skies almost turns into a home invasion film as the Barrett family has to bunker down and try to defend against the onslaught of what is happening to them.

Which leads to the ending. The film builds through the home invasion and just as we are about to get to a resolution, the film shifts to a hallucination sequence followed by what actually happens. The ending feels somewhat rushed and unfocused, though could have been much worse.

And speaking of much worse, you certainly can do much worse than what this film offers. The film does not re-invent the wheel, but some interesting set pieces and mostly good acting keep this film afloat and worthy of being checked out.