“Dark Skies” Brightens the Theater for UFO Buffs and those that Want to Believe!

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I have to admit that it’s been a while since I really enjoyed seeing a movie on the big screen. Oh sure, I’ve seen plenty of films that were “okay” and it’s always nice getting out with friends, but there have been few where I felt drawn in to the story or any type of reaction for that matter. Last Friday, I headed out to see DARK SKIES. I didn’t know much about the film except that it dealt with alien visitors and, ironically, I have been in a UFO kind of mood these days. I decided to give it and, must say, I was pleasantly surprised!

Directed & written by Scott Stewart the story centers around Daniel and Lacy Barret and their two boys. It’s an average American family and, when I say average, I mean by today’s standards; marital trouble, financial woes, and staring down the barrel of foreclosure. The tension between mom (Keri Russell) and dad (Josh Hamilton) is thick and often has their sons left fending for themselves. In the case of  their youngest son, Sam (Kadan Rockett), this means hiding in a world of fantasy while his older brother, Jesse (Dakota Goyo), seeks comfort from pals who introduce him to porn and drugs.

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Things are already tense but, making things even worse, the family is experiencing strange, unexplainable occurrences. These include flocks of birds crashing into their home, waking up to geometric kitchen sculptures, and the kids getting branded to name but a few. The police are annoying and beyond useless (though, in their defense, I’m not sure what they could do in a situation like this one) and friends start suspecting that the stress-ridden parents are abusing their children.

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With no outside help, Lacy starts Googling for answers and discovers that these incidents have happened to other families with the on-line consensus believing it’s evidence of alien visitors. Unable to ignore the similarities, she tries to convince her husband that The Truth is Out There but, needless to say, he’s not quick to embrace this mantra. In this regard I must be a veritable Fox Mulder…I’d of been out watching the skies after the FIRST instance!

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After dad finally sees something unexplainable on his home surveillance system, he and Lacy seek out a local expert, Edwin Pollard (J.K. Simmons), to help explain the situation. Though Simmons’ role was small, his character was pivotal and I was on the edge of my seat listening to what he had to say. Though his answers were far from profound, the lack of sensationalism was just as effective without becoming cheesy. Oh…and you might want  bypass Felix and look for Fido in terms of an “alien alert” system. Apparently dogs can sense them while cats remain characteristically aloof.

Simmons, RussellTaking the “Are you being visited by aliens” survey

DARK SKIES was produced by Jason Blum who also produced INSIDIOUS and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Like the latter film, this movie does incorporate elements of POV film-making but, thankfully, forgoes this trend in favor of good old fashioned story-telling. I thought the characters were well crafted and it will be hard for any average American viewer not to feel some level of sympathy for them. Watching this film, I was reminded of past greats such as CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF A THIRD KIND and even POLTERGEIST. The alien aspect isn’t overplayed either and this absolutely benefits the movie overall.

If you’re a believer you’ll definitely enjoy this one and, even if your not, it’s a well executed story. I enjoyed the film and, while I wouldn’t put it in the same league as CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, it’s definitely as good as one of my other favorite “alien visitor” films, FIRE IN THE SKY (which I wrote about HERE). All in all, DARK SKIES has been my only bright movie experience this year.

Dave Fuentes~

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