Jesse, Daniel, and Lacy Barrett become a family in crisis in Dark Skies.
Aliens occupy a unique place within cinema. They are character types that have been used in nearly every genre of film ever made. From comedy to romance, drama and horror, aliens have been in them. In Dark Skies, the 2013 film from pioneering horror factory Blumhouse Productions, the production company takes the classic alien encounter concept and puts its characteristic twist on it.
Jesse and his younger brother Sam are questioned by their parents about what they are experiencing.
In the spirit of Blumhouse’s terrifying hits Paranormal Activity and Insidious, Dark Skies follows the Barrett family who begin to experience strange occurrences in their quaint suburban home. After discovering her kitchen wrecked and a trail of food leading to an open backyard door, Lacy (played by The Americans’ Keri Russell) thinks nothing of the incident, attributing it to a wild animal. Shortly after, Lacy and her husband Daniel’s (Josh Hamilton) youngest son Sam (Kadan Rocett) comments about how “the Sandman” messed up their kitchen. From there, things only get stranger as the family, including oldest son Jesse (Dakota Goyo), begin experiencing weird things not only in their home but also to themselves. Blackouts, strange bruises, skinny gray creatures in the house, and more mark the build to the twist-filled finale.
During the clean up after a flock of birds slams into the Barrett home, Jesse and his friend Bobby check out one of the dead birds.
Dark Skies certainly marks itself as a product of the Blumhouse factory. The creepy atmosphere of nighttime in peaceful suburbia lends an air of relativity to the frightening occurrences of the film. The film’s two adult leads provide solid, convincing performances that convey their characters confusing and bewilderment at the events going on around their homes. Their two children are also well portrayed, with the younger son being the stronger of the two. The oldest son plays the teen-angst card a little too much. Another highlight of the film is Oscar winner J.K. Simmons’ turn as a UFO expert/victim of the aliens. His personal tales of woe at the hands of the aliens and explanation of the odd events surrounding the Barrett family are chilling to say the least. Instead of going with a more wacked out, zany approach, Simmons’ character is portrayed with a more traumatized personality. This approach lends itself to the film’s emphasis on psychological terror.
The many disruptions and strange events causes a lot of tension in the Barrett family.
With only a few jump scares and little in the way of gore, writer/director Scott Steward utilizes atmosphere, tension, and the mysterious nature of the alien tormentors to add frights. But if you’ve seen Paranormal, Insidious, or basically any recent ghost related horror film, you’ll figure out how this one ends. There’s a solid Signs type build to the film, yet it devolves into more of a ghost story with aliens instead of evil specters. The aliens themselves, once revealed, are unnerving while also being a little bland. While film looks good and the early tension is solid, but the forgettable story and failure of the movie to make the characters and their boring backstories matter ultimately dooms it.
Jesse goes to confront the apparations on his own.
Jesse jumps up and down on the couch in the vacant house.
Our chucks moments are brief in the film, as we see the oldest son, Jesse, sporting a pair of black low cuts throughout the film. One noticeable scene involves Jesse’s minor backstory of male adolescence, as he, his friend Bobby, and two girls get high in a house Lacy is attempting to sell. The best close up comes toward the end when Jesse goes to visit his girl friend Shelley (Annie Thurmond) and the camera pans up from Jesse’s chucks, showing some writing on the left shoe with a marking pen.
The camera pans across Jesse’s black low cut chucks.
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