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Alien abduction strikes suburbia in new thriller

Submitted by David Ellis on March 14, 2013 – 5:06 pmNo Comment

Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” It is this quote that opens the new sci-fi/horror film “Dark Skies,” a tale of a suburban family who suddenly experiences a series of disturbing events that escalate and lead to the discovery that they’ve been abducted by aliens.

“Dark Skies” was written and directed by Scott Stewart, who boasts five similar titles including “Priest” and 2010’s “Legion.” The film, which had particular styles of camera angles, lighting, and editing deliver the spook factor. The director knew just how to combine all those elements to heighten the suspense. There is a particularly disturbing scene in which Lacy Barrett, the family’s matriarch, wakes to find her husband in the backyard with his face frozen, his mouth agape in a look of terror. Still unresponsive, he walked into the house, finally waking to ask why he was in the kitchen. These small parts were elements that easily delivered on the scares.

The film was also well-assembled because of its use of the movie-making process in driving the drama. But the one place it came up short was in the visual effects department, which is surprising since Stewart is known for just that. The aliens in this movie were cartoonish, poorly designed and only seen in full toward the end.  With a budget of only $3.5 million — as opposed to $50 million — one can see that sacrifices had to be made.

Taken as a whole, “Skies” was a good movie. It was well acted, with Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton delivering excellent performances as the Barretts. Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett gave very believable performances as the Barrett children, and J.K. Simmons was excellent in his minor roll as alien abduction expert Edwin Pollard.

More importantly, the film brought the alien abduction phenomenon to suburban America, which is a scary notion. Regardless of one’s position on the existence of extraterrestrial beings or the alien abduction phenomenon, “Skies” was a good story of how a family can draw together in the face of overwhelming odds.


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