Dark Skies (2013)
Review by Jude Felton
Dark Skies is another film from the Blumhouse Productions camp, which is either good news if you know who they are, or it will mean nothing to you. However, if I tell you that this is the same production company that was behind Insidious and Sinister, you might get an idea of what to expect; a film with solid production values that focuses on the chills. What I find strange is that Dark Skies, upon its US release, didn’t seem to generate anywhere near the publicity that the aforementioned films did. Although that being said, it easily recouped a profit in its opening weekend.
Now it is time for Dark Skies to hit Blu-ray and DVD in the UK, through Entertainment One, and I highly recommend that you don’t let this creeper slip past your radar. Where Insidious and Sinister dealt more with a supernatural element to their scares, Dark Skies looks firmly to the, well, skies funnily enough, and what is found is no less terrifying.
The Barrett family is having a tough time of it. Josh is out of work and the bills are piling up, relationships are strained and things are starting to go bump in the night. Are wild animals getting in, to feast on the contents of their fridge? Or is there a mathematically inclined poltergeist at play? Events, whilst innocent enough, to start with, start to plague the family, which not only put them on edge, but also cause concern from neighbors and friends.
Dark Skies really doesn’t beat around the bush, in terms of getting straight to the point, but it does do a rather good job of gradually building the tension and creating itself a creepy little atmosphere, which builds until the final scenes. Even though the answers are given, to the family, a little too easily (Google rocks, don’t ya know!), there’s still a convincing air of dread and bewilderment about what is happening to the Barretts'.
It’s not a film that is overly reliant on special effects, although what there is happens to be done quite well, and you will see little bits of Paranormal Activity and Insidious etc. peppered throughout the film. Even when the film treads familiar ground though, it still manages to keep you on edge, which for me speaks volumes about it. As with other recent spookfests, the less you know about the actual specific details the better, as I found out.
The film itself was directed by Scott Stewart, who gave us the much loathed Priest and also, a personal of mine, Legion, and it really couldn’t be much further away from those two big budget flicks. This is a far more intimate movie, with much of the action taking place in the Barrett’s house and the focus being on the relationships within the family, as well as the events unfolding. If this is what Stewart can come up with, when given a little artistic freedom, I would recommend he follows this route, as Dark Skies works far more than it doesn’t.
There are certain elements of predictability here, which you’ll notice as soon as you watch the film, but it can only be considered a success when as a whole the movie still works. Even the ending, which was a little weak, managed to illicit a few goose bumps.
The DVD which I watched didn’t contain a multitude of extras, but you will find some alternate and deleted scenes, and an audio commentary from Stewart, Producer Jason Blum, Exec Producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Editor Peter Gvozdaz, and I’m all for audio commentaries, so that’s a win in my book.
Overall, Dark Skies is a creepy little bugger that takes familiar story and plot elements and makes them seem fresh and scary. I enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.
Dark Skies hits Blu-ray, DVD and Digital in the UK on August 5th from Entertainment One.