Don’t get too attached to the kids: “Dark Skies”

February 25, 2013

posterdsOkay, upfront you should know that I’m gonna SPOIL Dark Skies, because you can’t really talk about the movie as a whole without talking about the outcome. Of course, if you’ve seen the trailer, this poster, and/or have half a brain, you can probably figure out where this movie is going early on, but hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you. We cool? Cool. So, uh, to fill space before we get to the fold…um…hey, how about Keri Russell? Good to see her working again, huh? Yeah, you know what? Her hair is straight and medium-length in this movie and no one died. Remember that whole brouhaha during season two of Felicity? No? Well, ask your parents. Okay, that’s about enough filler, let’s get to the steak…

Okay, so, Dark Skies. It’s about aliens (uh…spoiler?) Real, real dickish aliens. Seriously, we are not in E.T./Close Encounters territory here. These aliens are some major cock-monkeys. And, basically, they just want to screw with this family for some reason. Maybe they’re bored. Whatever the case, they do put the poor Barrett family through the wringer.

So what are we talking about here? Well, basically it’s like the first ten minutes of Poltergeist was expanded to about 90 minutes, and then aliens showed up with a bottle of wine and a copy of Broadcast News on VHS. The bulk of this movie is weird stuff happening to the family, like weird sleepwalking, the alarm being tripped everywhere at once, all the family photos being stolen, lost time, et cetera. And Lacy and Daniel Barrett (Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton) try to puzzle through the strange events afflicting their family, while we, in the audience, try to refrain from shouting, “ALIENS! IT’S FREAKING ALIENS, YOU STUPID, SUBURBAN COW-PEOPLE!”

Wow. Cow-people…that would be a cool movie. Oh, wait…Darn.

Anyway, the family is already strained, since Daniel is out of work and Lacy is the sole breadwinner, winning said bread as a real estate broker. They have two relatively healthy sons—five year-old Sam and  thirteen year-old Jessie—who we follow for way more of the movie than we should.

Keri? You have a...never mind, nothing.

Keri? You have a…never mind, nothing.

Eventually, Lacy figured out what we already know (aliens!) and goes to see an alienologist (is that a thing? That should be a thing) played by JK Simmons. JK tells that that, yeah, you’re pretty much boned, and that aliens will eventually take one of them and not give them back.

Well, at this news the family promptly pulls together and goes all Skyfall on the aliens—basically fortifying the house and getting ready for a siege. Which does eventually come…like, the night after they talked to JK (the aliens dick around with these people for months and now they’re in a hurry?), and the Barrett family does their best to fend them off. Unfortunately, a 12-guage shotgun is not terribly effective against creatures that can, you know, traverse deep space (shocker, I know), and Jessie gets taken. Bummer. But, hey, it does help alleviate their money concerns, right?

"Dark Skies" is a movie that considers this terrifying.

“Dark Skies” is a movie that considers this terrifying.

Dark Skies is pretty much lackluster across the board. It does nothing new the whole “butt-raping alien” genre, and recycles the same home-invasion anxiety that the Paranormal Activity movies have pretty much mined out.

The movie does glance off of a few interesting ideas about the nuclear family and suburbia in the 2000s, but never really develops (or shows much interest) in any of them. At first it seems that Daniel’s joblessness will serve as an interesting take on the emasculation of modern men—Hamilton, with his doofy features, and “Jesus-Christ-I-just-want-to-punch-this-guy” hipster beard, just oozes ineffectualness—but the movie gives up on this like a fat kid trying to climb the rope in gym in class. Likewise, director Scott Stewart (Legion, Priestholy shit, they’re still letting this guy make movies?) offers us some portentious overhead shots of suburbia, but never really explores why these should be freighted with meaning. Basically, he’s just showing that he’s seen a Spielberg movie.

...and also this.

…and also this.

Um, what else do we have here? Okay, real quick:

* The family buys a guard dog, and feels it’s a virtue that the dog—a German Shepherd—is labeled “Aggressive!” Yeah, nothing can go wrong with that plan….

* Doctors find some kind of alien star-chart branded on Jesse’s back! And they send him home with the folks and a stern warning not to go branding any more of their kids. In reality, look at your kids funny and Child Services sends them into the Witness Protection Program.

* Wait…why do the aliens steal all the family pictures? And why do they rearrange all the stuff in the kitchen? Stuff like this makes me think that the aliens are just getting drunk, screwing with this family, then giggling at them from the safety of their flying saucer.

* Simmons calls the aliens “The Greys.” You know when you give a name to your unseen, puppet master aliens, it really drains a lot of the fear out of them. Especially when that name is “The Greys.” They sound like my parents’ mahjong partners.

* The aliens attack the house at, like, 8PM. Seriously, the family is watching 4th of July fireworks on TV. You’d think the aliens would want to wait until at least, I dunno, the local news is on. Yeah, that’s some good abducting/anal-probing there.

He's somehow even less threatening with a shotgun.

He’s somehow even less threatening with a shotgun.

* Stewart wrote this, too? What the hell, Hollywood? What part of Priest made you think, “Yeah, this guy’s an auteur”?

* The movie’s shocking denouement (presented as if it was the twist at the end of Angel Heart), basically tells us what we already know. (What? Jesse was visited by The Greys when he was a child? Um, yeah, I figured that’s why they took him).

* Jesse has a chick he’s interested in played by 16 year-old Annie Thurman. Stewart comes up with a flimsy reason to get her into a bikini and them lets the camera linger over her. Yeah, it’s creepiest thing in this movie.

All right, so that’s Dark Skies. The moral oif the story is…uh…I dunno, make sure one of your kids is expendable or something.


  1. It’s a Martha Stewart alien.(Judging from the kitchen) He/ She just wanted to show its art and craft skills to the human before abducting them, that’s it, nothing complicated.

  2. I don’t know how I missed that…

  3. It’s easy to miss that, esp if you didn’t study Alienology.

    • I took Alienology but as an elective, and just to meet chicks.

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