By Jacob Montgomery (Texas)
Another year, another dozen horror films.
Dark Skies will most likely be the one this year that will be forgotten the fastest. There’s nothing flat out awful in it, but the experience as a whole feels underwhelming and that makes it very unmemorable.
The plot of the film is that strange and bizarre things seem to be happening to the Barrett family, that isolate them from the townsfolk, and as the phenomena escalates, they discover some horrifying secrets about the universe, and what these supernatural beings are after.
Now, true to a horror film, there are some frights. A standout scene involves hundreds of birds flying directly toward the house at full speed. But a few seconds of fright doesn’t have enough impact to be a good horror film. A good horror film really gets under your skin and makes you think about what you’ve just seen long after the film is over. That is not the case with this film.
It feels like the writers had a checklist of what were in scary movies in the last few decades and tossed them in because they felt they should; creepy kids, unlikable characters, characters doing stupid things, characters (especially cops) who won’t listen to the protagonists, taking forever for the characters to figure out about the supernatural, giving the creatures an “innocent” name and the obligatory twist ending.
I am starting to get sick of horror films with “shocking” twist endings that pretty much make the entire proceedings of the film pointless. It is so often used as an obvious attempt to try to make their horror film stand out, but since there are dozens of films with endings like that, the result is that it ironically makes them blend in. It’s become so expected of horror films, that we are hard-wired to expect them, which makes the ending less of a surprise. It’s okay to do endings like this every once in a while, but not when the majority of horror films are doing this.
That’s not to say the plot is bad; quite the contrary. The idea of unseen beings making a family look psychotic is actually an intriguing plot, but the film feels like an overlong prologue to a real horror film, stretched way beyond the breaking point. There are scenes that go nowhere, like Jesse (the oldest son) hanging out with his friend Kevin (who is a despicably unlikable character, by the way). These scenes seem to have no purpose since they’re not scary, unsettling, or give us insight into his character. And if it’s supposed to be insightful, the film makes it inconsequential. If it’s supposed to garner sympathy for the character that would be much better spent with scenes with his family.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on this film. This isn’t an awful horror film. It has some creepy moments, and you can tell the filmmakers are trying to make a scary film, but my advice would be to wait around for a better, more frightening horror film.