This coming week brings us the science fiction thriller Dark Skies to DVD and Blu-Ray. I managed to take a look at the film and bring you my review of it for this week’s DVD Buyers’ Guide. I am a huge fan of alien invasion movies and enjoy seeing the various methods filmmakers believe the event will go down (the same goes for zombie pandemic movies). That said, this has been the subject of so many movies that it is hard for filmmakers to actually bring something new to the table. However, this is mostly an abduction movie and there are quite a few of these out as well. The problem with abduction movies is that there is really only one of two ways the main event can go down: 1) someone gets abducted in the beginning of the movie and the rest of the movie is spent trying to convince others it actually happened, or, 2) the characters spend the most part of the movie trying to prevent someone from being abducted and ultimately succeed or fail in the end. Dark Skies, being an abduction movie, opts for door number two. Can this film escape the confines of its plot limitation? Should you buy, rent, or skip this on the new release rack? Read on.

Welcome to suburban America. The lawns are neatly manicured, children play joyfully in the streets, neighbors get together for summer cookouts, and couples thinly mask their problems behind shallow smiles. This is the setting for Dark Skies and the home of the Barret family. Lacy Barret is a real estate agent who hasn’t made a sale in a while and her husband, Daniel, is an unemployed something or other. They have two sons, Jesse and Sam. Sam, the youngest is obsessed with a scary story his brother tells to him about the Sandman. When strange things start happening in the house, Sam tells his parents that it is the Sandman doing them. Of course, his parents don’t believe that their son’s imaginary friend is pulling pranks around the house. So Daniel, gets a security camera system installed in the house. Slowly, the family starts to realize that they are being visited by aliens. Slowly, the investigation reveals that “the Grays” intend on abducting someone from the family. The rest of the movie is spent trying to prevent this.

On it’s surface, it seems like a pretty slick movie. The performances are good for the most part, though a couple of the younger performers could use a little more time in front of the camera to hone their skills. The CG effects are smooth, but we wish we could have seen at least on of the aliens clearly. Instead, every shot that I recall featuring the extraterrestrials was blurry. The film did manage to incorporate some of the more obscure conspiracy theories into the movie such as mass deaths of birds, altered geomagnetic fields, and the idea that an alien invasion has already occurred (“the Grays” are among us, using humanity as lab animals for research). One of the more common conspiracy theories also comes into play: that of aliens placing implants into our brains. Most people think they do this to keep track of their experiments, like tagging a wild animal to monitor it’s behavior. This films adds another dimension though by indicating the implants are used to control us. All of this considered, what’s the verdict?

Originality: 2.5/5 – Points for incorporating lesser known conspiracies into the plot and it’s twist on the implants, but a typical abduction movie in the end.
Story: 4/5 – capitalizes, ironically, on the piss poor state of the American economy to build tension and moves well. Loses a point though because aliens that could get in and out of the house with locked doors (without setting off the alarm) become hindered by a locked door and boarded windows.
Performances: 3.5/5 – Believable, but some could use some work and no one is winning an Oscar here.
Special Effects: 3/5 – Again, smooth but wanting at times.
Repeat Viewing: 2/5 – If I felt like watching an abduction movie, this would be a random pick because if you’ve seen one you’ve seen most of them.

Score: 

This is a solid rent. It offers just enough to be entertaining for an evening, but not enough to take up space in your DVD collection. Have an alien movie collection and need this for your collection? Wait a few months until it hits the reduced price shelves. It shouldn’t take that long.