Dark Skies [Blu-ray] (2013)

Actors: Keri Russell, Jake Brennan, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett
Director: Scott Stewart
Writers: Scott Stewart
Producers: Bailey Conway, Bob Weinstein, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Charles Layton, Harvey Weinstein
Format: Color, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: A/1
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
DVD Release Date: May 28, 2013
Run Time: 97 minutes




Dark Skies kicks off with a quote by Arthur C. Clarke: “Two possibilities exist - either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

That is about as science fiction-y the movie gets. Dark Skies is actually a horror movie in which a typical American middle class family is terrorized by a bunch of “grey” aliens, intent on kidnapping a member of their family.

Think Paranormal Activity, but with aliens instead of ghosts and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. At one point the dad even rigs up digital cameras in all the rooms in their suburban home to see what is behind strange phenomena such as flocks of birds smashing into the house, mysterious marks appearing on their youngest kid’s body, and so forth. Poltergeist for the iPad generation, then.

It may be derivative as hell but, to be fair, Dark Skies has a few effective creepy scenes that will make audiences jump in their seats. As long as that is what you expect from a movie and you’re not too bothered by things such as “originality” then by all means, check out Dark Skies on Blu-ray or DVD. However, be warned: the movie is undermined by the thought that “why would highly advanced aliens travel millions of light years to play parlor tricks on a typical American family?”

To be honest the scariest scenes in the movie are seeing the suburban mum (Keri Russell) and her unemployed husband (Josh Hamilton) struggle making ends meet in today’s depressed economy. Whereas the baby boomer couple in Spielberg’s 1982 Poltergeist smoked some weed and generally had a fine time (except for the angry poltergeist inhabiting their home bit), the couple in Dark Skies are made to suffer through painful job interviews and domestic arguments about whether they should cut cable in order to make ends meet.

In fact, we rather felt sorry for them and felt it unfair that they should cope with sadistic aliens in addition to modern capitalism . . .

THE DISC: Good sound and video quality will have to do, because the remainder of the Blu-ray uniformly fails to impress. An audio track contains comment from Stewart, editor Peter Gvodas and two of the film’s producers. The director and editor also provide optional audio commentary for a set of deleted and alternate scenes. That’s it, though DVD and digital copies are included in the Blu-ray set. If the film itself is your primary goal, the transfer is gorgeous and the sound is terrific. Just don’t expect anything more for your money.

- James O'Ehley, Rob Vaux



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