BULLSEYE or MISFIRE: Dark Skies Review

By Dr. Know on February 22nd, 2013

Starring Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett and J.K. Simmons.

Directed by Scott Stewart.

Screenplay by Scott Stewart.

Produced by Jason Blum, Jeanette Brill, Bailey Conway and Jessica L. Hall.

I haven’t been a huge fan of the films Scott Stewart has directed to far. I thought Legion had great potential but was ultimately a missed opportunity due to the gaping holes in the story. Priest, well, I loathed that movie. Needless to say, I haven’t been chomping at the bit to see Dark Skies. The movie looked to be one those slow-burn horror flicks. While I’m a fan of that approach when it works, more often than not the payoff never lives up to the set-up with these sluggishly-paced movies.

So was I wrong? Did Stewart make me eat my words by hitting the BULLSEYE…or was my cynicism warranted with an expected MISFIRE?

STORY: A supernatural thriller that follows a young family living in the suburbs. As husband and wife Daniel and Lacey Barret witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barret family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacey take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family.

ACTING: Keri Russell as Lacey Barrett: Always reliable and never oversells the role, even though there is some scripted drama between her and dear ol’ dad played by Josh Hamilton. Too bad she didn’t have a better screenplay to service her. On the bright side, Keri, The Americans have been renewed for season two on FX.

Josh Hamilton as Daniel Barrett: Just as serviceable as Russell but thanks to the writing there were moments when i just wanted to smack the shit outta this character. The whole “What is going on?” vibe drives me nuts in a movie like this, especially when a character like this takes way too long to get up to speed on what the dealeo is.

Dakota Goyo is Jessee Barrett: Great in Real Steel, but like everyone else is under-serviced by the script. He’s there to have weird phenomenon happen to him to escalate the terror in ma and pa.

Kadan Rockett as Sam Barrett: The same rule that applies to Goyo applies here, too.

J.K. Simmons as Edwin Pollard: The lone bright spot in this movie. While he may be the supernatural/alien expert, for once one of these paranormal investigators isn’t a wing nut with a ton of pointless and goofy quirks. If I want that I’ll watch Zelda Rubinstein in Poltergeist.

FX: Street lights flickering on and off unexpectedly; spooky alien-like shadows lurking in the not-so-happy home; furniture and plates stacked inexplicably throughout the home; birds attacking the house, crashing into windows a la Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds; flashing spectral lights’ plenty of things going “bump” in the night.

STUNTS: Not really much action to speak of. Mostly our characters are stupidly reacting to shit.

T & A: Naught.

BLOOD & GUTS: Some random bleeding noses; ghastly bruises and scars on someone’s torso via brand; a nasty ear rash, if that even qualifies.

As expected, most of the phenomena is senseless and weak, the pace is frustrating and, as is almost always the case in a movie like this, we’re far ahead of the characters from minute one, waiting for them to catch up the entire time. And, of course, we get an obvious set-up for the sequel at the end.