Dark Skies


“Dark Skies” tells the tale of a family beset with a string of escalating alien visitations. Helpless and frightened, their lives slowly unravel under the strain of the events as the extraterrestrials get bolder and bolder in their incursions.

As frightening as that concept is, the film loses its entire cache of good will with its bold, but regrettable choice of endings. When it’s finished, people will be left thinking about the film that could have been.

Lacy (Keri Russell) and Daniel Barrett (Josh Hamilton) are your typical American suburban husband and wife, raising two boys and struggling to make ends meet after the recession costs Daniel his job. One day, however, they begin to experience what initially appears to be a string of home invasions; their burglar alarm keeps going off, the food from their refrigerator is strewn around their kitchen, and household items are stacked in odd ways.

Initially, of course, the family denies anything otherworldly is going on. Intruders are suspected, and police are called. When no signs of forced entry is discovered, suspicion falls to the children. Things begin to get even stranger, however… confounding authorities and leaving the family at wits’ end. Hundreds of birds simultaneously crash into their home, their youngest child begins having visitation nightmares, and worst of all, they all begin to experience trance-like states where they temporarily lose control of their bodies and have no recollection of what they did.

Eventually they’re forced to believe the impossible, and they seek out the help of an expert on alien visitations (J.K. Simmons). Unfortunately, the news they get isn’t what they want to hear.

For much of its runtime, I was impressed with “Dark Skies”. Though not all of the events that they experience were completely original feeling, they certainly were creepy and intriguing. The film escalates events slowly, beginning with the nightly break ins and leading towards a full-out alien home invasion scenario. The family’s powerlessness in the situation is frightening. There’s no where they can turn for help, no one else believes them, and they can’t even fully count on being in control of their own bodies when they need to be. The cast does a fine job portraying this, especially Simmons, I thought his cameo here was superb.

The conclusion of the film, however, is guaranteed to infuriate people. I didn’t even attend a crowded showing and I heard moans and groans of discontent. Personally, I was… ok with it, but I recognized immediately that most viewers would wholeheartedly reject it. The ending of a movie is so critical to the final assessment… I don’t think it’s possible for a good film to have this kind of a disappointing ending and have people leave thinking it was good overall. The last impression will be the overriding one. So even though I thought it was a daring card to play, and had a certain degree of respect for how they concluded things, I have to objectively put up the warning sign for the purposes of this review.

All told, “Dark Skies” winds up being a middling alien harassment movie which might have earned a higher grade, but one that’s saddled with an ending that makes it a difficult movie to recommend.


Daniel Fogarty

24 thoughts on “Dark Skies

  1. Nice review man, been keeping an eye on this one, reasonably interested about checking it out. Sounds like a similar reaction to how I felt about The Forgotten, decent enough for the most part but really let’s itself down at the end. See also Knowing with Nic Cage.

    • The Forgotten is an excellent comparison. Probably the best possible. Good flick, right up until the “Ohhh cmon, really?” finale. 😦

      I liked Knowing though, I even like the end there. Although I know I’m in the minority…

    • 😀 The last time you gave me a Tossin’ It Out There topic it hit 200 comments. 🙂 (well, 199)

      I’m gonna keep that one in mind. I might morph it to favorite or least favorite ending though…

      Meanwhile, yes. Mama flew off the rails, too. This didnt do that, exactly, it was just… unsatisfying. I dont want to spoiler it, but it was pretty bleak and a little open ended, you know? Not quite a full resolution…

      I understood why they went that way, but right away I knew people would hate it. The groaning in the theatre helped. LOL

      • Open ended endings can work, but only when they are done masterfully. Its not something a film like this should go to.
        I am noticing your new avatar, which is making me excited for a new MTESS…

      • Haha!! LOL. They’re not connected, though Spinal Tap indeed will see its day in the series one day.

        Not sure we’re going to have one this week buddy. The Oscars are going to put a wrinkle in the weekly schedule.

  2. I like the idea of this one Fogs but sad to hear it doesn’t really work. I used to love the tv series Dark Skies and was hoping this might be linked in some way but I think I’ll overlook it for now.

    • Havent seen that series, so I cant say.

      As far as the movie goes, there’s still a chance someone could really like it, its not completely horrible. But odds are the end is going to put a damper on people’s feelings, and the rest of the flick isnt good enough to overcome.

  3. This apparently is the weekend of future rentals. Good review, Fogs, you made me more optimistic about it than I thought I’d be. Very curious about the ending now. Thinking Sinister or Signs.

    • Havent seen Sinister, but Signs was much better than this. Even though Signs ended disappointingly too, that was when Shyamalan was on top of his game.

      Meanwhile, yeah, this weekend blew. LOL Thank god February is over. 😀

  4. Good point about the ending. It’s interesting that you were ok with it (and I wasn‘t), yet you were much harsher in your grade. For most of the film, I was pretty creeped out which is why I was so generous with my rating. Nice assessment!

    • Thanks Mark.

      Its hard to explain… I recognized instantly that 80% of people who see the movie would throw their remote at the tv, but I respected the balls it took, I guess.

      Still, I cant grade just on what I think, so I had to downgrade its grade to reflect what I think others will feel when they see it. 😉

  5. This reminds me of a film called The McPherson Tapes (although it had a few alternative titles around the world) where a family is suddenly harassed by an alien presence. It is all shot on videotape and was a precursor to The Blair Witch Project et al and the found footage genre.

    This does sound like fun – it is the sort of film I enjoy watching but it is difficult to get right. The Devil Inside sounded great on paper – then I watched it and was horrified – in a bad way! It would appear they’ve been somewhat successful with dark Skies though.

    • Ive never seen “The McPherson Tapes”, but I have heard of it, and I’d like to check it out, I’m a sucker for Alien stuff. 😀

      “Difficult to get right” is right Dan, and they alllllmost got it. They did come pretty close. But ultimately I dont think they succeeded 😦

      Meanwhile, it’s nowehere NEAR as bad as Devil Inside. LOL. That was awful. And the end here was bad, but nowhere near that bad. God what a bad movie. I named it my worst of last year.

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  7. I almost went to go see this one, but opted not to. I may rent it though. Sounds like I will have fun if I do go see it in theaters just watching the audience at the end. (I remember laughing as everyone groaned at the end of Inception when I went to see it a second time. haha)

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