From the producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious and Sinister comes the supernatural thriller Dark Skies starring Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett and J.K. Simmons. Unlike its predecessors, will it scare audiences with an original story or is it just a Paranormal Activity of the Third Kind rip off?
The Barretts are the typical suburban family struggling to make ends meet. They make sacrifices, but they are happy. Daniel Barrett is an out of work architect who is content being a stay at home dad for the time being until he can land a stable job. Lacy Barrett is working hard as a real estate agent to ironically keep from losing their own home. Daniel and Lacy are proud parents of two boys: Jesse who is a slightly rebellious teenager and Sam who is sweet and innocent little one.
Even with all their financial problems, the Barretts are still surviving until a series of unexplained events occur in their house. One such event is a magnetic imbalance that causes three flocks of over six hundred birds start crashing into their windows and siding. The only explanation comes from the little boy Sam who states the “Sandman” visits him at night. Can Daniel and Lacy prove to everyone they and their children are not going insane and can they unlock the mystery of the Sandman?
With an unknown movie like Dark Skies hitting theaters this weekend, the marketing department for the Weinstein Co. is hard at work letting potential audiences know that it has the exact same producer from such films as Paranormal Activity, Insidious and Sinister. If you are familiar with those movies, then it may not come to you as a huge surprise that Dark Skies is the same movie, with the same concept, but with different actors and a different set of “unexplained” events that traumatize a normal suburban white family. This time around our stereotypical Caucasian household isn’t being haunted or possessed, they are instead being visited at night by E.T.’s evil cousins who like to stack cereal boxes in the kitchen, because god knows what scares middle-class white people is geometrically arranging the pantry.
Kerry Russell (from Felicity fame) and Josh Hamilton (Alive) are the heads of the Barrett clan, Lacy and Daniel. They did a pretty good job playing parents trying to juggle the threat of foreclosure and alien invasion. Playing their oldest offspring is Dakota Goya who recently played the bratty and entitled son in the Hugh Jackman robot fighting movie, Real Steel. As Jesse, Goya played a pretty good awkward thirteen year old. He likes to hang out with his older buddy and watch porn and lusts after the cute neighbor redhead girl. The three actors I mentioned didn’t do a horrible job at their respected roles, but they didn’t come across that likable to make audiences care when the shit hits the fan.
The actors I really liked in the movie are Kaden Rockett who plays Sam Barrett and J.K. Simmons as the alien expert, Edwin Pollard. Rockett was pretty creepy. Imagine if you will that Carol Anne from Poltergeist and Cary from Close Encounters of the Third Kind grew up, got married and had a weird ass son. That kid would be Sam Barrett. J.K. Simmons is only on screen for a brief cameo, but he acted in a complete about face than he typically does. Instead of being Cave Johnson from Portal 2 or the instructor from the Farmer’s Insurance commercials, he was somber and meek. You could tell that he was a broken man devastated by the nightmares of alien abductions and the burden of always having to tell bad news to concerned people who unwillingly become “The Chosen.” The only problem I had with the character, is that it is exactly the same type of “expert” that Vincent D’Onofrio played in Sinister. While Simmons’s acting was great, the character was a carbon copy.
Dark Skies is not horrible, but it’s not great either. It’s pretty meh in my opinion. At times, the movie was entertaining, but then was drawn out with such boring moments that dragged down any type of suspenseful momentum the film was trying to build. I really liked how disturbing Sinister was, but Dark Skies relied way too heavily on jump gags instead of trying to unlock the fear part of the audience’s brain. The film is rated PG-13, so don’t expect anything bloody. The movie isn’t that terrifying. As the story progressed I couldn’t help but to compare the film to a lower budget version of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs that lacked a sympathetic family. Signs was at least able to be shocking and thrilling all while being charming. If you liked movies like Paranormal Activity and Insidious, you may like Dark Skies, but it will be dependent if you have grown tired of these carbon copy flicks. It’s almost as if the screenwriter was using the same Mad Libs from the previous films and just substituting names, events, villain and unexplained phenomenon. If you want to save time, just watch the trailer since it gives away the whole movie and watch Signs.
In Theaters: February 22, 2013
Runtime: 95 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for Violence, Language, Drug Content, All Involving Teens, Sexual Material, Terror Throughout)
Director: Scott Stewart
Cast: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett and J.K. Simmons
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
Official Site: http://www.darkskiesfilm.com/