The Barrett family are just like every other American family. But soon their world is shaken when a deadly presence starts to make itself know in their house. As the disturbing events escalate, the Barrett’s come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them. Ultimately there is no escape from the terror so the Barrett’s mount a confrontation with the evil that lurks their corridors.
Dark Skies proves to be an effective chiller from writer/director Scott Stewart, whose past credits include Priest and Legion. Borrowing heavily from the likes of Signs, Paranormal Activity and even Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Dark Skies plays the hand it’s dealt with an assured style and tact. This is a B movie for all intents and purposes but with moments of genuine fright and fun.
It’s nice to see Keri Russell back on the big screen with she and Josh Hamilton easily convincing as the married couple whose lives are turned upside down with these bumps in the night. Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett do well as the kids thrown into this mix whilst Spider-Man’s J.K. Simmons pops up in a pivotal but small cameo.
The film suitably builds tension throughout, and whilst it does echo a lot of the horror/suspense films we’ve all seen before, it still provides plenty of good moments to revel in. There are a few jumpy scenes but on the whole, Dark Skies relies on foreboding dread rather than bangs and whistles.
In a key scene (that incidentally appears on the poster), a flock of birds fly straight into the front of the family home. It’s a terrifying and wonderfully constructed segment full of tension and fear. Throw in the odd shadowy glimpse of the big evil and you have a film that plays to its strength with knowing vision and verve.
The film campaign surrounding Dark Skies varies from the sublime to the ridiculous and this actually affects the overall enjoyment of the film. Every trailer and TV spot for this movie gives away at least 3 key reveals throughout the film. It works hard to scare us by drip-feeding the audience information but along comes the commercials and undoes all of that hard work. If you haven’t already, avoid all trailers and adverts for Dark Skies and you’ll enjoy the film at lot more.
This won’t win many awards for originality but Dark Skies still comes out as a decent watch for horror fans and an effective example of how to drum up the right kind of tension. It takes a familiar story and dresses it up well, providing a captive audience with a wonderfully creepy nights entertainment.