You can be excused if you can’t exactly remember much about The Darkest Hour. The film was released on Christmas Day 2011 and despite a moderate promotional campaign, the film reaped only $3 million in its opening weekend petering out at $21 million when it became absent from theatre screens only a few weeks later.
The film starred Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild) and Max Minghella (The Ides of March) as two young American’s who are in Moscow for business when lights appear in the sky – lights that are actually aliens that have the capability of turning humans into a snowy ash substance a la Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.
We learn quickly that the aliens use electrical power to help hunt humans and after their initial onslaught, only a handful of humans seemed to have survived. Sean and Ben (Hirsch/Minghella) begin their survival adventure with former fellow business partner Skyler (Joel Kinnaman) and eye candy Natalie and Anne (Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor) whom they have met at a bar the night of the initial invasion.
Intelligently, the group holes up in a storage room for a few days after witnessing the human annihilation before removing themselves from their self-imposed tomb to begin searching for survivors/answers.
The destruction of Moscow was filmed impressively with scenes that included a downed plane that has crashed into a larger building, and the five survivors must put their shock and awe in check and keep on the lookout for the alien presence that can only be seen by the human eye when provoked.
Their numbers will increase and dwindle and the surviving members of the group will come across other survivors that will either aide in their cause or become simple plot elements to help increase the body count.
The trailers for The Darkest Hour were encouraging. It looked interesting and fresh and there are far too few science fiction films hitting our theatre screens on a regular basis as far as I am concerned.
But the screenplay by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) doesn’t allow director Chris Gorak (Right at Your Door) to provide audiences with anything more than the occasional interest level peak with wonderfully shot cinematography. We get cheesy lines such as “Team work makes the dream work” and “They came here with a plan.” and there is only so much you can do around such poorly written moments to keep audience’s attention to what is happening on screen. And as much as we can credit some of the visuals, other special effects (most particularly a scene on a runaway bus) is too green-screened for our liking.
The Darkest Hour was meant to be a serious science fiction entry aimed at young and adult audiences alike. But all it ends up being is a few scattered moments mixed up in a bunch of clichés and stereotypes that made my experience in the darkest hour and thirty minutes of my weekend.