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DARK SKIES (BLU RAY)
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Scott Stewart

Starring:
Keri Russell
Jake Brennan
Josh Hamilton
Dakota Goyo
Kadan Rockett

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
As the Barret family's peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.
Is it good movie?
I know I'm not alone in saying this, but I really wanted to like Dark Skies. I don't think it's quite the horrible abomination some critics make it out to be, but it absolutely collapses under its own weight shortly after the halfway mark. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton star as the Barret family, a couple with two children- tween Jesse (Dakota Goyo from Real Steel) and young Sam (Kadan Rockett). They're trying to keep it together after Dan (Hamilton) loses his job and Lacy tries to hold it together as a struggling real estate agent. Performances here are a bit wooden, but the real issue here is the script that makes everyone sound and act foolishly.

Jesse's starting to hang out with a kid who can only be described as an awful influence- a mean spirited dope who is experimenting with weed, early sexual activity and the occasional break-and-enter (into one of Jesse's Mom's sale properties). Meanwhile young Sam is a troubled creepy kid who is essentially being raised by his older brother and has a penchant for walkie-talkie "are Mom and Dad going to leave us" conversations with his brother once the lights go out and his parents start having arguments. I'm about to give away the main "thing" about Dark Skies, but don't go pointing fingers here, the whole plot is given away by a quote at the beginning of the film.

So with the basic foundation laid, Dark Skies tries to be creepy by throwing- well, pretty much any horror cliché you can think of at the viewer. Mom wakes up to find food all over the floor, to find furniture rearranged, house alarms start going off, wildlife phenomena target the house..all kinds of things like that. Sam is our initial victim who is blamed for all of this, and of course he has marks on his flesh and draws really, really obvious pictures of aliens that people remain oblivious to.

After this, the movie shifts into Paranormal Activity mode, once the family contacts alien (sorry, this movie calls them "Greys") expert JK Simmons to help them with their plight. Of course, the Barrets become even worse parents after this- they're explicitly told NOT to ever leave their kids alone if they want to make sure they're safe. They ignore this rule several times, not to mention ignoring the unbelievably obvious signs that their kids are showing them. As for the CCTV footage, It's all about stop, fast forward, quick flash, fuzzy screen, gray blob, that sort of thing. When you actually see the aliens, they look exactly like the most stereotypical alien you can think of.

Ultimately, a few of these moments are bound to creep you out a bit, especially if you never watch horror movies. With that said, there's no skill to just trot out cheap scare after cheap scare. On top of that, as I mentioned earlier, this movie gets tougher and tougher to swallow as it moves along, to the point where it all just gets ridiculous. When something really out of the ordinary happens involving some animals and the Barret home, why does everyone still think that the obviously distressed Barret family is beating their children? Why is it that these super-smart aliens fumble with human doors? Why are they implanting humans with devices?

Folks, there is nothing new here. Dark Skies steals from movies that were far superior that came before it, and really falls apart by the time it's all over.  This is a third choice rental, at best.
Video / Audio
Video comes to us with a 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, and looks pretty good. The level of detail in some scenes is incredible and really shows off what high definition is about. However, the contrast levels tend to lead to some off-blacks, which makes things a bit uneven. Still, pretty good-looking unless you're a nitpicker.

Audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, which sounds absolutely awesome. Seriously, this is a practically flawless track that is mixed expertly. Great stuff.
The Extras
First up, a commentary track with Writer/Director Scott Steward, Producer Jason Blum, Executive Producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Editor Peter Gvozdas. This one is jam-packed with information about how this film actually came to be (shockingly enough, it was once a found footage idea).

Other than that, you get 9 deleted and alternate scenes, with optional director commentary. I'm not big on these sorts of things- the alternate cuts are only slightly longer than the original, and the deleted scenes were deleted for a reason. Look out for an alternate ending which doesn't really make much difference.

Also, a DVD and Ultraviolet copy of the film are included.
Last Call
This is a horror movie on cruise control that is at best, watchable. It doesn't break any new ground whatsoever and suffers from a lot of really lame twists and character decisions. Unless you're a huge fan, I'd wait for the bargain bin and even then choose carefully.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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