Dark Skies

This alien home invasion story combines some haunted house style thrills with a strong family drama that ends up being a really solid little horror movie.

Released in 2013, this film stars Keri Russel as Lacy, and Josh Hamilton as Daniel, a married couple struggling since Daniel lost his job. They are trying their best to keep their struggles quiet from their friends and neighbors and ultimately from each other. One night, Lacy wakes up and discovers all the food in their kitchen has been strewn across the floor. The next night, she discovers a bizarre tableau of household items arranged in the kitchen. Things only get weirder and scarier from there as their young son Sammy, played by Kadan Rockett, seems to be the target of an alien infestation.

What works about the movie? There are some great scares in this one. I jumped several times. The movie has a few nice set ups and payoffs as in one creepy moment when Lacy is going to check on Sammy and sees something standing over Sammy’s bed. It’s such a brief glimpse and the thing standing over him is so creepy looking that it serves as a great jump. I really went for it. And there are several moments like this throughout the movie.

The film doesn’t operate like an alien story. It’s not Close Encounters or Signs. It feels like a haunted house movie. These aliens are invading their home with unknown intent. This taps into something I love in scary movies where the home is the center of the terror. The one place you should feel safest is the place where you are least safe. It also serves to make the aliens more interesting. They remain enigmatic and shadowy creatures. Once I see an alien in a movie their intrigue is always diminished.

The film is about a lot more than just the spooky aliens. It really is the story of a family falling apart. Daniel is trying so hard to keep it together that he ends up crushing his family and denying the horror around them. He alienates everyone around him. It’s about a marriage that isn’t working until the couple start to work together and even then it might be too late. It’s a compelling story, but it’s also a frustrating one. Daniel is such a bull headed jerk throughout the story that it becomes difficult to watch him make one wrong decision after another.

This also leads to some pacing issues. The second act is full of scenes of something crazy happening and Daniel denying it. When aliens are invading your home, and your life is plagued with unexplainable phenomena it’s time to start listen to your family and stop being such a jerk. It gets repetitive and slows the movie down.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie. It had some chills. It had a solid story. I enjoyed it. It didn’t revolutionize my horror movie experience, but I had fun with it.

It is my cup of tea. B+

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