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By Shane M. Dallmann

DARK-SKIES+Keri+Russell

Okay, let’s get this one over with. I saw DARK SKIES because I’ve been skipping (or plan to skip) quite a few tenuously-connected genre outings lately. No interest in HANSEL & GRETEL. No interest in WARM BODIES. Or BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. Or JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (okay, Sam Raimi’s trip to OZ does look promising). Or Stephanie Myers’ take on INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS that uses the title of a Korean monster movie. So at least DARK SKIES wasn’t some R-rated fairy tale or yet another “young adult” romance with supernatural characters… it was actually going to be about nasty aliens terrorizing a family and it was actually going to try to scare me. So I gave it a fair chance.

Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton live in suburban California with two young sons. The thirteen-year-old has been led off the straight and narrow by an older friend who continually treats him to porn and pot (this leads to a most uncomfortable bit of teenage groping later on), and the younger brother is pretty much willing to believe whatever anyone else tells him.

Weird things then start to happen at home. Someone or something raids the refrigerator but eats only the lettuce. Then the whatsit arranges everything in the kitchen into an awesomely-balanced work of art to scare Mom. Yeah, there’s some SIGNS stuff about the symbols being created, but it really happens because it’s sort of like what the ghosts did in POLTERGEIST.

Funny… I had a dream about POLTERGEIST last night and I wasn’t even anticipating seeing DARK SKIES. Actually, the dream involved me seeing an ad for the remake of POLTERGEIST II even though there hadn’t been a remake of the original (yet).

Anyhow, DARK SKIES continues down the same path as the various family members take turn blacking out, acting strangely and seeing “The Sandman” (your typical ‘gray’ with no imaginative/original touches whatsoever). But unlike the happy POLTERGEIST campers, this family is living in the modern day with all its inherent troubles and stresses, so everybody thinks the behavior of the children is a direct result of the bickering of the parents.

Then they broke out the home security cameras to set up some PARANORMAL ACTIVITY jazz, and I considered walking out. Then the aliens started marking the boys, so everybody on the block thought that Dad was beating them (and Dad obligingly enabled this misunderstanding by doing something mind-blowingly stupid), so I DID walk out.

Okay, I didn’t REALLY walk out. But I zoned out, occasionally acknowledging that something or other was occasionally happening on screen. No Zelda Rubinstein, though… this time the parents visit a ‘gray’ expert in a cat-crowded apartment and he spells the whole near-hopeless situation out for them. He also calls attention to the implants they’ve received without their knowledge. You know, like the ones in THEY quite a while ago?

There’s no “They’re heeeeree….,” but there IS a staticky TV screen. There’s also a decent startle or two to be had, but the best one was given away in the trailer. And there’s a climax/ending that’s frustratingly broken up with material that’s openly, obviously a dream, but it kind of sort of might have worked if the past hour and fifteen minutes hadn’t drained all the life out of me with soul-sucking boredom ahead of time.

I suppose I’ll see the amusingly-titled THE LAST EXORCISM PART 2 next week just to see if there’s any lingering trace of what I liked so much about the first one. But it looks like just another exorcism movie too soon after THE POSSESSION.

Then I think I just might hang it up for a while. Let me know if anything interesting happens again.

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