An effective blend of horror and sci-fi, ‘Dark Skies’ is another reminder that the producers behind ‘Paranormal Activity’, ‘Insidious’ and ‘Sinister’ are a potent horror team.
The premise is simple. The Barrett family begins the film on the verge of a crisis. Daniel (Josh Hamilton) is unemployed and struggling to find work, teen son Jesse (Dakota Goyo) is friends with an unsavory local and on the verge of rebellion and mum, Lacy (Keri Russell) is struggling to keep the family together.
The only secure member is the youngest son Sam (Kadan Rockett), at least, that is until the sandman starts appearing by his bedside.
At first, they write of his strange visitations as a childhood fantasy, but as strange things start to happen around the house – Daniel and Lacy begin to become suspicious.
Soon it emerges that an alien race has taken an interest in them, and now they face a real fight to save their family and face doubt and adversity from all corners of society.
What is refreshing about this alien-invasion film is that it’s not about the doubt. The endless debate over whether the oddities occur in the real world or in the mind are mercifully confined to the first act here, which allows the rest of the film to descend into a creepy haunted house style film with a twist.
The scares come thick and fast, and the aliens, shown only as of the ultra-familiar ‘greys’, manage to be surprisingly scary adversaries for someone I thought I’d seen a thousand times before.
The performances from Hamilton and Russell are understated and intelligent. There’s no sign of the screaming, moronic horror victims that are so impossible to identify with, and the balance between skepticism, denial and straight-up fear is bang on.
The younger end of the cast is equally adept at effectively dodging tropes. Goyo’s Jesse gives us enough coming-of-age drama to emotionally invest in, without descending to gooey-eyed Amblin nostalgia.
Opposite him, Rockett’s Sam is young and innocent enough to pull off the creepy naivety required of his youthful victim, but writer/director Scott Stewart steers clear of making his ignorance an incessant source of dramatic tensions: we quickly know that what he sees is something to fear.
All in all, this is a chilling twist on the abduction theme that makes full use of the production team’s aptitude for horror. If you want scares aplenty, you won’t be disappointed here.