From the producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister comes Dark Skies: a supernatural thriller that follows a young family living in the suburbs. As husband and wife Daniel and Lacey Barret witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barret family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacey take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family.
Producer Jason Blum, who scored major successes with micro-budget horror hits Paranormal Activity
, applies the same high-voltage approach to this well-crafted thriller about a suburban family under assault from malevolent forces. Writer-director Scott Stewart (Legion
) adds an interesting element of zeitgeist to the proceedings by translating the family's financial instability--Dad (Josh Hamilton) searches in vain for work while Mom (Keri Russell) struggles to keep the family afloat with the meager returns from her real estate job--into a harbinger of unexplainable incidents, including doors and windows mysteriously unlocked and birds crashing into the house. As the phenomena increase in frequency and intensity, it becomes evident that the family has been targeted by a presence with apparent designs on the youngest son (Kadan Rockett), who already maintains a relationship with an unseen "friend." It all unfolds under an umbrella of slow-building dread, but by the time Dark Skies
reaches its conclusion, Stewart provides little beyond a barrage of visual and sonic shock moments, which plays havoc on viewers' nerves but fails to deliver a genuinely frightening experience. He does have solid support from the perennially unsung Russell and Hamilton, as well as character actor J.K. Simmons, who lends a lot of credence to the picture as a paranormal abduction expert, but ultimately, Dark Skies
will be most appreciated by fans of Blum's particular approach to otherworldly suspense. The Blu-ray includes commentary by Stewart, Blum, executive producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, and editor Peter Gvozdas, who largely focuses on how the film's many technical aspects were achieved on a modest budget, while a 14-minute collection of deleted scenes offers noisier but mostly inconsequential moments, including an underfed alternate ending. Trailers for other Starz/Anchor Bay genre releases round out the two-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet set. --Paul Gaita