x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dark Skies: a creepy, slow-burn mix of science fiction and horror

Although it offers more shocks than surprises, the movie is intelligent enough to be worthwhile for genre fans.

Keri Russell stars as a suburban wife living in a mysterious house. Courtesy Alliance Films
Keri Russell stars as a suburban wife living in a mysterious house. Courtesy Alliance Films

Dark Skies
Director: Scott Stewart
Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett, JK Simmons
***

A low-key alien abduction chiller for our anxious, economically uncertain times, Dark Skies compounds financial stress with extraterrestrial terror, as an American suburban couple find their family's security threatened by more than just mounting bills.

Eerie nocturnal occurrences in the kitchen, unexplained bird strikes on the house, photographs that mysteriously go missing, apparent break-ins by unseen invaders and the strange behaviour of their youngest son, whose nights are haunted by a sinister presence he calls the "Sandman", throw Daniel (Josh Hamilton) and Lacy (Keri Russell) Barrett's lives and relationship into disarray.

Finally the truth, arrived at with the help of a reclusive conspiracy theorist (wonderfully played by JK Simmons) - but obvious to us from the outset - is revealed: they are not alone. And thus the scene is set for a showdown on July 4.

Dark Skies ultimately offers more shocks than surprises. Although it treads some familiar ground, this creepy, slow-burn, sci-fi/horror mash-up deploys its well-worn tropes - as well as elements cherry-picked from other movies (The Birds, Poltergeist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Paranormal Activity, with which it shares a producer, Josh Blum) - with enough skill, suspense and intelligence to make it a worthwhile outing for genre fans.

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