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MEGATech Reviews Movies: Dark Skies

Dark Skies tells the story of the Barrett family and their encounter with extraterrestrial life. Unlike E.T., the protagonist of Spielberg’s classic science fiction film, these aliens don’t drink beer and eat Reese’s Pieces. The actions they engage in are much more mysterious and nefarious and the Barrett’s must struggle to learn just what sort of threat they’re dealing with – and how to stop it.

Who’s Calling the Shots?

Scott Stewart has helped develop the visual effects for over a dozen popular films, including titles like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Iron Man. His filmography as a director, however, is much less impressive, consisting of a short film and the two duds that are Legion and Priest. I’m sure you’ll forgive me for not going into Dark Skies, which he both wrote and directed, with high hopes. The bar was not set high, to say the least.

While Legion was more of an action than a horror movie, it still dealt with various monsters, and Stewart failed to convey the threat posed by any of them. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he does not have that problem in Dark Skies. From the very moment that things begin to go wrong in the Barrett household, Stewart uses strong performances and an intense atmosphere to build a very effective sense of dread.

As things get stranger and we begin to realize the supernatural or other-worldly nature of the threat, incidents become less predictable and simple scenes like walking down a hallway become suspenseful torture.

MEGATech Reviews Movies: Dark Skies

It’s How You Finish

Like many, many horror films, Dark Skies starts out stronger than it ends. The film is full of genuine scares and disturbing events, but as things progress, the incidents get harder to believe and it becomes clear that Stewart has not laid forth any rules for his invaders.

I’m not suggesting that we would be able to make sense out of extraterrestrial visitors and their actions, but at some point it begins to feel like Stewart ran out of scary ideas and just started throwing things at the wall to see what would stick. The scares are still solid, but a lot of them are followed by an “oh, come on” reaction. That said, he never resorts to cheap jump scares, for which he needs to be commended.

The Invasion of the Good Enough

All of the Dark Skies’s faults can be attributed to a shallow script which borrows too many elements for the film to really make its mark. The rest of the film, however, is a solid effort. There are good performances, especially a smaller turn by J.K. Simmons. The aforementioned atmosphere and tension serve to make the scares that much more intense and, more importantly, earned.


If you’re just looking for something that will glue you to your seat, Dark Skies will do it. Don’t expect anything more than a serviceable ending and just enjoy the ride.

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