Halloween Moviefest - Movie #3 - Dark Skies

Updated: Oct 23


Streaming Service: Netflix

Watched: 10/3/2020

Note: This review has very light spoilers that you could glean from the trailer. A spoiler section is clearly marked.

Dark Skies is a 2013 alien abduction film that centers around a family experiencing strange phenomena. I have to admit that I’ve always found stories about the grays very unsettling. The idea of an alien race abducting and experimenting on humanity is not a very pleasant one. Also, the abduction scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind really scared the shit out of me as a kid. Though the ending of that particular movie was upbeat, the abduction scene of the little boy was pure terror.

Set in an idyllic suburban neighborhood, Dark Skies takes its time building up the family and giving us an in-depth look into their daily struggles. The film delves deep into the family dynamics. The parents, Lacey and Daniel, are struggling with job insecurity and financial troubles that are adversely affecting their marriage. They also have to deal with their 13-year-old son, Jesse, who is entering his rebellious teenage years. Their youngest son, a sweet boy named Sam, has a love of scary stories. Jesse reads to him every night using their walkie-talkies. Things are not perfect in their family and when unusual events began to occur in the home tensions start to rise.

One aspect of the story that was really well acted is the despair the family experiences when it realizes no one’s going to believe what is really happening to them. There really isn’t anywhere for them to turn for help outside of a UFO abduction expert. It does take some time for Daniel to finally accept what is happening to his family. He’s very protective while at the same time his inability to control what is happening propels him to act out in ways that are not conducive to actually protecting his family. He definitely has an anger problem. Yet, his frustration with his unemployment, the strangeness in his home life, and the fear of losing it all makes total sense.

I really did like the alien design of the grays and their presence is used to good effect. I admit that I did jump at the appearance of the first alien. They are incredibly creepy and not overused.

Dark Skies pulls heavily from the alien abduction mythos. There is nothing really new in the story outside of what we’ve seen previously in television shows and films. In some ways that works for the story because we are anticipating what is going to happen and there is a twist at the end. There are clues laid out for what does happen, which I appreciated, and I admit to missing.

This film worked for me because it’s well-acted, the family felt real, and the realization that the family really had nowhere to turn for help created tension and dread. How do you fight against creatures like the grays? How do you protect your family?

Dark Skies is one of the better alien abduction films that I’ve seen. If you enjoy this subgenre of the horror genre, I would definitely give it a watch.

Spoiler Section

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That the aliens abduct Jesse and not Sam was a great twist and I like how they laid out the foundation for it. The film does a really great job of making us believe that the aliens are after Sam. There is one scene that gives a clear indication that Jesse is the actual target when he is riding his bike home at night and we see the streetlights going out one by one and a bright light just around the corner. The scene never goes beyond this moment, but it is clear that Jesse was most likely abducted at this time. The whole family is the focus of the aliens, so it’s easy to dismiss this moment as truly significant. It was really chilling how the aliens took Jesse at the end of the film. The walkie-talkie scene was definitely disturbing and a great way to end the movie.

The film does lean heavily into the idea that the grays are cruel in their behavior toward their subjects. This is an aspect of the mythos that doesn’t often come into play in television and film. The grays are often portrayed as being unemotional, cold and calculating in their scientific endeavors. Dark Skies stresses the cruelty of continued abductions, implants, and the total disruption to the lives of the people there experimenting on.

Whereas Close Encounters of the Third Kind had a happy ending with all the abductees returning, Dark Skies does not give us a happy ending in the least. The parents are clearly still under investigation for possibly killing their child and they have lost their beautiful home in that quaint suburban neighborhood. I like this ending because the film takes its time building up how trapped in a maze the family truly is and doesn’t cop out. Jesse’s fate was truly chilling. One more thing, why did the poster give away the ending? WTF? I'm glad I didn't pay too close attention to it before viewing.

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