It has been what seems like ages since I was able to throw down a positive review on a new horror movie, mainly due to the fact that damn near everything that has been released lately has stunk to such an extent that you could smell it from the deepest reaches of Mars....that is until I hit my local Redbox yesterday.
I had seen the trailer for "Dark Skies" months ago, and was genuinely intrigued, but not enough to plunk down 25 bucks for my wife and I to check it out, but I made sure to keep the DVD release date in mind and to my inner joy unleashed, I rented this surprising 97 minute foray into otherworldly phenomena, and loved every minute of it.
Keri Russell plays a real-estate agent whom is holding down the family unit with her recently laid-off husband (who's been neglecting to fill her in on their mortgage woes), and their two sons Jesse (16 yrs old) & Sam (5) - Jesse hangs with the bad element in town, and Mom & Dad are working on trying to correct it, but not as hard as they should be. Our story follows the (happy ?) family and the unexplained events that begin to plague their household and themselves in the process - what starts as a trashed kitchen during the sleeping hours one night steeps down into other nightly occurrences that contain objects being stacked in the kitchen in odd patterns (refer to Poltergeist for this one) - the security alarm system being tripped with all entry points breached at the same time (a nod to Paranormal Activity 4), and family members going out for midnight strolls with no recollection as to how or why they got where they were when they were found.
These unexplained circumstances aren't solely witching hour incidents, either - Keri Russell's character suffers a type of breakdown during a showing of a home to two prospective buyers that must be seen to be believed,while both children endure trancelike states during the daytime, adding to the eerieness of their locality. Both parents continue to trivialize these situations until things rapidly start to spiral out of control and they are faced with requiring outside help, and that help comes in the form of "expert" Edwin Pollard (played smoothly & convincingly by J.K. Simmons - the Farmers Insurance guy) - once this guy applies his expertise to the Barrett's dilemma, things become MUCH clearer and a definitive plan is put into place to try and save the lives of themselves & their family.
Russell plays the professional mommy role with frigidity, almost allowing the audience to not like her or her plight, while Josh Hamilton acts as Mr. Mom, feigning ignorance to the issues that are plaguing his family until it is almost too late - these roles can be a little tedious to crawl through, but they are well played in the manner that they were assigned. Don't look for humor in this film - you WON'T find it, and that suits me just fine - the more solemn the mood, the more credible and sincere the movie becomes - pacing of the film is well timed out, you aren't left with too many slow spots and should be at the ready for one of the numerous jump scares that will come at you. Dream sequences are used to create the "is this real or not ?" question you will most likely pose to yourself.
In the end this movie is well worth the watch if you are looking for one of those "Insidious" type scare-fests, complete with a simple twist ending that will satisfy most horror fans - so give this one a good look, and beware the Dark Skies...