Eric Renderking Fisk | October 7, 2015
There are those moments while watching any kind of movie and you think; yeah – this is one that I’m going to come back to time and again for this reason. “Dark Skies” is one of those movies with several of them. It’s bound to become one of those classic movies that’s neither drama, horror or SF. It’s a little bit of all that with an ounce of realism that makes this film that much more horrific.
Keri Russel (of “Felicity”) stars as Lacy Barrett, the matriarch of a small, young family dealing with many of the same money problems that are ubiquitous of the post-2008 world. As a real estate agent by day, she struggled to keep her family afloat while her husband Josh Hamilton’s “Daniel Barrett” struggles to find work again as an architect or industrial designer after being laid off which occurred before this story began.
Lacy and Josh are also busy raising their two boys in a McMansion-style house in an upscale neighborhood, dealing with the typical issues every family goes through in this situation, some of them I recognize why my own boys. The motion picture’s drama begins as Lacy habitually wakes up in the middle of the night - several different times in the same night – to check the doors and windows to see if they’re still locked.
Why? It doesn’t take long for us to see that there’s a reason for this compulsive behavior - starting the strange structure made out of everyday household items, then odd pictures of a 'make-believe' character visiting the youngest boy that he says is visiting him in hte middle of the night, and sleep walking. Then there are increasingly more creepy happenings with-in the house which is eventually punctuated with three flocks of birds hitting the house all at once.
Of course congenital science, the police, and the tech from the home alarm company can’t explain anything. With some on-line research, Lacy finds someone who can explain it all with-in reason; Edwin Pollard played with authority and quiet gravitas by J.K. Simmons.
Mr. Simmons portrait of Edwin Pollard does an uncanny impression of me, to be honest, as the armature UFOlogist who has seen and heard things. While I’ve never experienced an alien abduction nor do I have an implant (that I know of) – this character resembles exactly the image that I have of myself as someone who is trying to assure people that they aren’t imagining things, this is real, and prepare for the worst when the end finally comes.
This isn’t the first alien abduction movie we’ve ever seen. It might not even be the best, but what it does have is the rising tension that comes when Mr. and Mrs. Everyman deals with a phenomenon like this. It also gets most of the alien visitation lore right; it’s accurate almost to a fault. Many of the events that happen here echo many of the sensational cases I’ve read in the past. It dips deep into the lore first brought to our collective attention by Whitley Strieber’s “Communion” and similar works by other authors.
The ending is somewhat telegraphed throughout the end of the movie and when you see the final 5 minutes of “Dark Skies,” you’ll admit that there’s no other way this SF /Horror/ Abduction movie could end. It does have a bit of a twist and it’s somewhat unexpected, you knew “this” was going to happen, but the entire time we’re lead to believe that it’ll happen to “that” character. The last minute switch is the emotional equivalent to a jump scare. What makes this entire experience unique is the way it’s done; it’s laid out and performed to resemble exactly the way you would expect your neighbors to handle something of this horror and magnitude.
While the movie ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, it’s pretty clear that this story will remain unresolved. Maybe that’s why some of the horrors get under our skin; like all great suspense and thrillers something is left to the imagination. What I can imagine is far more exciting or horrible than anything that could be put on the screen.
“Dark Skies” is never going to become a cult classic outside the realm of Urologist’s. It’s a mere flick to hold you over for the weekend.