Humans’ fascination with extraterrestrials has provided Hollywood with plenty of script ideas and steady work for the skinny, large cranium aliens who hide in the shadows until the moment of the “big reveal”. Unfortunately the plots for these alien movies are almost as predictable as the space travelers themselves.
Already facing family pressures, Lacy and Daniel Barret (Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton) have no idea they’ve been singled out for an alien experiment. The economic downturn cost Daniel his job as a land developer and Lacy, a real estate agent, is stuck with an outdated house that won’t move. Their teenaged son Jesse (Dakota Goyo) hangs out with an older kid who has introduced him to illegal drugs and porn movies, and brags constantly about his (unsubstantiated) female conquests. The couple’s youngest son Sam (Kadan Rockett) is starting to have nightmares.
However the real clue their life is different from the rest of their suburban neighbors comes the night they wake up to find the food from their cupboards floating around the kitchen. While that seems a fairly obvious indication that something strange is afoot, the film drags on and on in an effort to establish the fact. By the time the couple seeks help from an alien expert (J.K. Simmons), Sam is drawing disturbing pictures, Daniel is dealing with an irritating sore, and three flocks of birds have battered their house, leaving the family home with broken windows and bloody markings on the siding.
As the film preps for the moment of disclosure with an escalating musical score and obligatory jump scenes, the audience understands why the neighbors (who don’t know about the aliens) are increasingly leery of the family, why the police have a growing file on them and why child protective services have been called.
At this point, coming up with a convincing or even conceivable conclusion becomes a problem. Dark Skies skirts the issue by rocketing off into a strange, dreamlike sequence that depicts a dead body in a pool of blood, a room splattered with the red stuff, a suicide and the sounds of sexual activity coming from behind closed doors. When the script snaps back to reality, it comes without an explanation for the bizarre detour and leaves itself wide openfor a sequel—should the aliens decide to return.
Though teens may be drawn to the young stars in this movie (Dakota Goyo appears in Rise of the Guardians, Thor, Real Steel and Resurrecting the Champ), adolescent involvement in illegal drug use, pornography and gun play may be enough to discourage parents from bankrolling the cost of movie tickets for these Dark Skies.