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3.8 out of 5 stars
Dark Skies (Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet)
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93 of 110 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
"Dark Skies" (2013 relase; 97 min.) brings the story of the Barrett family. Mom (played by Keri "Felicity" Russell) and dad (played by Josh Hamilton) are stressing because of their precarious financial situation (Dad is in between jobs, mom is barely hanging on to her real easate brokerage). They have two sons, 13 yr. old Jesse and 5 or 6 yr. old Sammy. Then slowly but surely strange things are starting to happen in and around the house, including a strange "remodeling" of the kitchen, then disappearance of pictures, and then hundreds of birds flying head-on into the house for no apparent reason. What is going on here exactly? At this point we're not even half-way into the movie, and things are to get a lot more tense than that still. But to tell you more of a plot-heavy movie like this would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Several comments: first, I had seen the trailer for this movie a few times in recent weeks, and thought it looked kinda interesting. I took a chance on this, and am glad I did. It is not a horror movie as such, nor is it really a sci-fi movie. "Dark Skies" actually falls somewhere in between, and on more than one occasion during the movie I saw elements from the "Paranormal Activity" franchise and also from the "Poltergeist" franchise just to name those. Second, what a delight to see Keri Russell again,as I sort of lost track of her. It is incredible that 2013 marks the 15th anniversary of when "Felicity" first hit the small screen. Russell is ageing quite nicely (if you can call someone in their mid/late-30s "ageing"), and she carries this movie, period. Kudos also to young Kadan Rockett as little Sammy, and J.K. Simmons who plays a small role late into the movie. Third, I must give a shout-out to the excellent placement of the Drums song "Days" midway into the movie, bringing a few moments of tension relief (for reasons I don't want to reveal) at that point in the movie.

The screening I saw "Dark Skies" at tonight here in Cincinnati was quite well attended. Smartly the director and producers of the movie made this into a PG-13 movie, rather than an R rated movie, and the audience tonight was heavily tilted towards the younger HS kids. They were loving this movie, laughing and screaming (sometimes at the same time) at all the right moments, and when the credits started to roll, the audience even gave an applause. Bottom line: "Dark Skies" is surprisingly entertaining, and better than I had expected.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant Video
...the hatred for this movie. Then again, I didn't understand the critics dislike of "The Forth Kind" from a few years ago or the dislike of "Fire In The Sky" from many years ago. I seems like whenever a movie comes along that doesn't involve a bike riding alien going over the moon (E.T.) or monsters blowing up the planet (Independence Day)the critics just can't seem to wrap their heads around it.
I've read about this movie being compared to the Paranormal Activity series.
This had NOTHING to do with ghosts. The usage of camcorders is minimal and I wouldn't for a second consider this film part of the "shaky cam" genre.
I knew within the first ten minutes this film was about alien abductions.
You're either a fan of this sort of film or you're not.
As far as your belief in aliens or inter-dimensional beings....I'm agnostic....like religion.
The movie itself?
Brilliant acting.
Amazing direction.
Perfectly cast.
Excellent score.
Many genuine moments that made me recoil in shock....not in a gross out way but in fright.
One of the best entries in the alien abduction genre I've ever seen.
Do you remember those few REALLY freaky episodes of the X Files?
That's what this is only better
Ignore the critics and judge for yourself....
Recommended.
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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I just took my daughter to see this on the big screen because I liked the bird collision with the window when I saw the trailer. The film started with the slow to moderate pacing of witnessing a family in the throes of tension created by the economy---bunker mentalities abound.Then something happened in Sammie's bedroom that made me jump the same way I did with "signs". Then pow. I was in. I immediately thought of the first script version of Close Encounters written by Paul Schrader "Taxi Driver". Spielberg turned it down saying it was mean spirited and didnt want a hostile invasion story. This movie was that draft. This independent piece was a homage to Close Encounters of the third kind, ET, The Birds, Poltergeist, Signs, and Paranormal Activity. Harvey Weinstein greenlit a film which was carried surprizingly well by the acting chops of Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton. I actually cared what happened to these people and thats rare for a scary film to be character and plot driven. The director kept his camera tight on the faces so the actors could not milk their expressions. The blank face fear always works. The soundtrack is very effective in its use against silence. The tension spilling on the children made me believe this couple has been toxic toward each other for a long time---long before the movie's circumstances introduced the audience to them. And maybe that tension drew the attacks to their home in the first place.
Why not being that original, the film compensated with the right mix of old recipes without diluting its ability to reveal enough of the story on a need to know basis to the audience just as it did to the characters. I didnt feel the need to be smarter than the movie. Expect a sequel.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
I'm not one for rave reviews. I find most films trite, redundant, regurgitated, shallow and self righteous. I can hardly sit through most horrors, because it all seems rushed, boring, and pedestrian, so why wouldn't this. I gave it a go. Standards of other films set in immediately and fast, and though it touches on elements so many other films have in so many ways: of Spielberg genius as Poltergeist and Close Encounters come to mind, (which no doubt people will claim metaphors to endlessly), but the film holds its own in a very simple, straight forward non CGI nonsense way, and its kind of brilliant because truly the ensemble cast does so well together, its believable how terrified they are. I believe the reason why Poltergeist was such a novelty, was not only the absolute terror of a film that stands the test of time, but there was real substance to it (the conversations that Beatrice Straight had with Jobeth Williams' character, how touching and special it was, and with the mothers son, how soothing she was, in a time of absolute pinnacle terror) That is achieved here. Yeah it's no Poltergeist, but in a market saturated with hundreds of turds released a year, this one comes out truly shining. It was very well done.

I am not good with what I want to say when detailing, but the colors are great, the story holds its own on minimal special effects, and considering its from the same people that bring us the ridiculous Paranormal Activity franchise, (loathed Insidious) I absolutely loved this.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2013
Format: DVD
Dark Skies breaks no new ground, is ridden with cliches, and rips off just about every other genre film that came before it. So why does it deserve the 5 stars nobody wants to give it? Because it works. And by "works," I mean it's SCARY. Dark Skies mixes the tension building of Signs with the family corrosion of Insidious; demonic possession being swapped out for alien infestation. It also has some great B movie elements and an open ending that makes it a fun movie to watch drunk, high, or with your relatives if your are into that sort of thing.

The first act is pretty slow and dumb. Bizarre wildlife behavior and screaming kids with vacant expressions doesn't do the rest of the movie justice. The couple that serves as the focal point of this story are so naive it's hilarious. Especially the husband, who is jobless and wears a permanent neckbeard. He goes from interview to interview, gets turned down everywhere for being such a candy ass, and ends up taking his frustration out on the neighborhood children in one very funny scene. The arrival of evil aliens is what keeps this family from falling apart.

Once the alien invaders show up halfway through, the movie takes off. The husband and wife team up to hunt down their "Father Merrin," who turns out to be a horribly miscasted J.K. Simmons (Schillinger in HBO's Oz). The director could have chosen just about anyone to play alien conspiracy expert Edwin Pollard, but he chooses the one guy who could not have done a worse job. Lucky for the audience, Simmons acts as a consultant instead of fighting the aliens head-on, and gets minimal screen time.

The film has plenty of very creepy moments for a movie of its kind. It blends in elements borrowed from many recent horror movies instead of sci-fi, and does not take itself too seriously during breaks in the main plot events. The soundtrack is bass heavy, and features a rhythmic beat that is in perfect sync with the sheepish husband's heart. The husband becomes more unstable as the tension rises and the audience is quick to know it through the eerie score.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
I saw bad reviews for this movie but I decided to go see it anyways. So glad I did. I haven't had a movie give me chills or scare me since Insidious and Paranormal Activity 3. It was such a great thriller with an unexpected ending. I can't wait for this to come out on dvd. Go see it at a dollar theatre or rent this from Little Red Box at your grocery store. If you buy it you don't need to buy on Blu Ray because there wasn't crazy graphics or action scenes.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 27, 2013
Format: DVDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you ever watched Paranormal Activity and wonder what the producers would do with an actual budget, you may have gotten Dark Skies. So gone is the found footage gimmick filmed by the characters and instead of a couple there is a family of four. We also get to know the characters better and are suppose to have empathy for them from the start: the father (Josh Hamilton, The 80's miniseries) just got laid off and the mother (Keri Russell, The Americans) who is now the bread winner is not very good at her job.

Much like Paranormal Activity, the scares are light in the beginning, something breaks into their kitchen and raid the refrigerator, before they get weirder, scarier, and more frequent. Just like the characters of Paranormal Activities, these characters are not the smartest people in the world. Sure they do not do anything stupid like taunt a demon, but it takes them way too long to actually do anything to figure out what and why things are happening to them, which in this case involves contacting J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man) which is about where the movie starts getting interesting.

But much like Paranormal Activities, you could probably just fast forward past the first hour and just go straight to the climax of Dark Skies and not miss much. This DVD also comes with an audio commentary with writer/director Scott Stewart, producer Jason Blum, executive producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, and editor Peter Gvozdas. It also has about fifteen minutes of alternative and deleted scenes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant Video
The story opens showing us a stereotypical suburban neighborhood. The focus shifts to one family. Daniel (Josh Hamilton) is out of work. He can't pay the mortgage but has money for all kinds of video equipment. His wife Lacy (Keri Russell) is a real estate salesperson, and perhaps too honest for her own good. They have two sons, Jesse (Dakota Goyo) who is discovering girls and pot and young Sammy (Kadan Rockett).

The story builds slow, creating character as it goes along, with each incident becoming more puzzling and troubling. Sammy reports of seeing the Sandman, claiming he is responsible for the odd occurrences. About an hour into the film, the events are explained in case you didn't figure it out by the opening Arthur C. Clarke quote.

This film is well done. I enjoyed it, even though I still say the whole thing business is hypnagogic hallucinations. This is must see for those who believe in the Grays. I would rate it somewhere in between rent to own depending on your hypnagogia. (Guess what word I learned this week from my doctor?)

Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity. Teen/tween drug use. Minor groping. Some sex talk, i.e. "going downtown"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2013
Format: DVD
**1/2

"Dark Skies" works reasonably well for its first 45 minutes or so, until it collapses under the weight of redundancy, over-familiarity and a surfeit of alien-invasion silliness.

The always reliable Keri Russell ("The Americans") and Josh Armstrong play the parents of two young boys whose peaceful suburban home is suddenly invaded by unknown creatures (think of it as "Poltergeist," only with extraterrestrials rather than ghosts as the uninvited guests). The movie is intriguingly atmospheric in its early stages, as strange, inexplicable occurrences begin happening in the house, but the longer "Dark Skies" goes on, the less interesting it becomes, till, finally, we find ourselves awash in a sea of over-baked conspiracy-theory cliches. The ending is fairly admirable, I suppose, but by that point we're even more eager than the family is to hightail it out of that house for good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
A decent paranormal thriller. Nothing terrible spooky or suprising, but, that said, it is consistently interesting enough - and the acting solid enough - to warrant a rental. Keri Russel turns in the most solid performance, and the kids were quite good - the husband I found to actually be rather one-dimensional. He kind of wears a deer-in-the-headlights face throughout most of the film, and generally turned in a semi-highly strung father character - a bit like Keanu Reeves after too many espressos. But, you could do worse, and I'd say folks interested in paranormal / alien horror, or even those who like their horror on the "lite" side, may find this one worthwhile and enjoyable.
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