Dark Skies - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dark Skies Reviews

Page 1 of 92
Super Reviewer
July 3, 2013
An average horror movie that manages to build some efficient tension for the most part of it, even if it doesn't offer anything original about abduction phenomenon that we haven't seen before in better works - say, The X-Files. The end is satisfying, though.
Super Reviewer
½ October 31, 2014
Genuinely creepy at the end, though starts out quite lame and even dull.
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2013
This movies goes into the "I was pleasantly surprised" category. The trailer was a yawner and the apparent premise initially screamed "overdone!" A family is creeped out by a a bunch of weird, unexplainable things happening in their suburban home. While this movie is not original as a whole, there are surprisingly original and creepy scenes to entertain even the most jaded horror fan.

While at first it feels like a "made-for-TV" movie, the performances start growing on you and as you finally get an idea of what is really going on, you're hooked. Compared to Director Scott Stewart's previous outings, "Legion" and "Priest," this is the best of the bunch, and frankly, the best of the most recent suburban, lamely titled fright-flicks (like "Possession").
Mark Beckford
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2014
This movies goes into the "I was pleasantly surprised" category for those movies that are better-than-you-expected. The trailer was a yawner and the apparent premise initially screamed "overdone!" (Family is creeped out by a a bunch of weird, unexplainable things happening in their suburban home.) While this movie is not original in any way as a whole, there are surprisingly original and creepy scenes to entertain even the most jaded horror fan. While at first it feels like a "made-for-TV" movie, the performances start growing on you and as you finally get an idea of what is really going on, you're hooked. Compared to Director Scott Stewart's previous outings, "Legion" and "Priest," this is the best of the bunch, and frankly, the best of the most recent suburban, lamely titled fright-flicks like "Possession."
Super Reviewer
½ February 21, 2013
3 3/4's. Creepy. Eerie. Decent job with the spooky background music, too. For once, a decent ending, too. Bad endings ruin films for me...this one pulled off a good one.
Super Reviewer
½ July 20, 2013
Scott Stewart's supernatural thriller, Dark Skies, isolates the viewer from the entertainment.Coming in at a tad over 90 minutes, the story takes it slow and steady, which works to a point when looking at it from the calm before the storm point of view; however, it does become tedious at times and the displeasing characters don't do much to help the film's cause.The suspense level is okay, but scary this film is not. The few attempts at jump scares have minimal effect and speaking of the supernatural effects, which isn't shown much, they are sound.Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are the typical parents without much to make them stand out, while Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett are the kids in the middle of it all. J.K. Simmons ends up with the most interesting segment of the film.Dark Skies does have an interesting concept and all in all it's good for a watch, if only once.
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2013
This film has no idea if it is trying to be original or not. "Dark Skies" follows a family as activity begins to happen in the house through the night. Weird things happen and security camera's are set up around the house. Sound familiar? (Paranormal Activity). There are elements of a countless number of horror films throughout this picture, and as much as I kind of admired what this film was going for, it fails in every single other aspect. I cannot say I liked it, but I admire it, and those are two completely different things. This film is poorly written, poorly directed, poorly acted, and laughably executed. I will never recommend this film, and sadly, it's one of the worst I've seen in 2013.
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2013
At times a terrifying and unnerving film with great set pieces, but ultimately let down by a number of stupid characters and obvious plot twists. Dark Skies sees a family steadily driven apart by paranormal activity in their home, only this isn't ghostly goings on, and this isn't spooks, it's aliens. This is the main problem with the film. From the beginning, thanks to an Arthur C. Clarke quote, it is revealed that aliens are the cause of what's going on. However, the film itself seems to want to keep that a secret, as though tricking you into thinking you are watching yet another cliched haunted house picture. My guess is that marketing and producers were scared people wouldn't flock to see yet another haunting picture, and so show their cards from the outset. This is a damn shame, as it would have been a shocking twist. Some of the events are genuinely creepy. I'm terrified of the idea of aliens, but how they're presented here is really freakish. With the mystery of the film ruined from the outset, you just have to enjoy the spooky goings on, and there are a number of clever twists such as expected dream sequences turning out to be reality after all. Still, it's hampered by annoying family members that live in denial despite the fact that all evidence points to the contrary. J.K. Simmons pops up in a thankless expository role, but Russell and the child actors do really well at capturing the idea of a fearful family. Fills its running time nicely, but could have been so much more.
Super Reviewer
½ May 30, 2013

When I first saw the trailer for "Dark Skies" I thought it looked interesting, but would end up being a bad movie. While it's not a great movie, it certainly isn't bad either. Keri Russell stars as your average married mother of 2, when Aliens start to do weird, harmful things to her family. First,it's little pranks that don't do any damage, but just mess with their heads. Then 3 different flocks of birds fly into her homes, and soon each member of the family gets their heads messed with in some very inventive ways. There are some very good suspenseful scenes in this, and it's perfect for a watch at home at night. But, towards the end the movie has some big plot holes(like what they're told to do to fight the aliens, makes no sense). Overall it's a lot better than I was expecting. Horror fans, or fans of aliens movies should give it a shot. I'm sure there are a lot of people that won't like it, but if you go with it, it's not too bad. Could have been a lot worse.
Super Reviewer
May 18, 2013
three stars
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2013
Dark Skies is a mediocre horror film that tends to rely heavily on clichés of previous horror films to create its tension on-screen. The film uses old ideas that we've seen many times before in other films. This picture had the potential of being a great film; instead it just barely makes for an entertaining movie. It relies on cheap jump scares that are bland, and tiresome. This could have been a memorable horror yarn, but it just doesn't deliver the goods that horror fans want. It's all recycled ideas and the sad thing is, is that the film started off with lots of potential, but halfway through it starts coming apart. Dark Skies I found was another bland horror affair that just doesn't deliver. The performances are wooden and don't stand out and the directing is sloppy with no emphasis on trying to create atmospheric tension and suspense. I feel that if the film would have relied more on those elements, then this horror tale would have been a memorable and very entertaining picture that is truly worth checking out. I really wanted to enjoy the film, but I felt that it was a mediocre attempt at horror and a cheap way to recycle old ideas that we've seen many times before. There have been far better horror films this year, but Dark Skies just makes you want more out of a film. With a more thought out story and a better cast, this film could have truly been one of the best horror films of the year. However the end result simply doesn't satisfy and Dark Skies just disappoints.
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2013
Subtly creepy and well-acted.
Super Reviewer
½ October 22, 2013
Keri Russell leads the cast in the horror thriller Dark Skies. The story follows a suburban family that begins to experience paranormal and bizarre occurrences that leads them to suspect that they're being visited by aliens. Unfortunately, the plot is full of tropes and character stereotypes. However, the directing is fairly good, and is able to set a creepy atmosphere. While it's entertaining and delivers some scares, Dark Skies is formulaic and predictable.
Super Reviewer
March 26, 2013
Daniel (Hamilton) and Lacy (Russell), a suburban couple with two boys, find themselves plagued by a series of increasingly strange and disturbing occurrences. It begins with cutlery being rearranged in the kitchen and the usual bumps in the night. Youngest son Sammy (Rockett) claims it's the work of "The Sandman" who visits him at night but his parents don't take him seriously. After installing an alarm, they find their home is still inexplicably being breached. One afternoon, a flock of birds commit mass suicide by flying into the house from three different directions. Lacy investigates and, after consulting alien expert Edwin Pollard (Simmons), discovers Sammy is being targeted for abduction.

It's often said that horror movies subconsciously reflect the mood of the time they were released. During the thirties, movies like 'Dracula' and 'The Mummy' reflected America's fear of the mass immigration the country was experiencing. The shooting of Duane Jones in 'Night of the Living Dead' echoed that of Martin Luther King. When rednecks were killing out-of-their-depth city dwellers in 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and 'Deliverance', who couldn't think of Vietnam? 'Dark Skies' makes a conscious effort to reflect the global financial crisis but it does so in an exceptionally ham-fisted manner. For the movie's first half, we're constantly told how the family are struggling yet we see no real evidence of this. Lots of money appears to be spent on installing CCTV cameras and alarm systems. Lacy seems to hold down a real estate job despite showing no evidence that she possesses any sales ability.

The story is told by the numbers but, if you can stay awake and pay attention, you'll see the numbers don't add up. Writer-director Stewart seems to be working from a first draft script which nobody else bothered to read. Had they taken the time to check, they would have found a host of inconsistencies. We learn early on that the aliens can move through walls yet, in the film's climax, the family make a huge deal of boarding up their windows. The oldest son, Jessie (Goyo), is 14 at the start of the film but regresses to 13 at the film's end. In the aftermath of the bird attack, a clean-up crew are kitted out in HazMat suits yet they allow a pair of teenage boys to run around the closed off scene picking up birds with their bare hands. You're left wondering who is dumber; the film's creator or the film's characters?
In one scene, Lacy blacks out, losing the previous six hours. After watching 'Dark Skies', you'll wish you could lose the previous two.
Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2013
Despite my love of Science Fiction, I had no desire to see Dark Skies. Someone from the groups Facebook page messaged me, telling me it was right up my alley, so I decided to give it a shot, and you know what, they were right! Dark Skies is portrayed as something completely different in the trailers and ads. I was under the impression that it was another of these crazy awful demonic possession films, but it was a whole lot more interesting than that. The Barrett family is experiencing some weird occurrences in their home that they can't explain. At first it seems like the kids are pulling pranks, but they come to realize it's much more serious than that. The family has become the target of an alien race known as the grays, and are fearing an eventual abduction. Felicity herself, Keri Russell, gives an interesting performance with a cold, quiet, intensity that was something to see, but the real star of the movie was young Dakota Goyo. Goyo is best known as the annoying little kid in Reel Steel, but he's grown up quickly, and was simply the most realistic character in the whole film. What makes Dark Skies unique is it's fantastic ending, which was very unexpected, and much more eclectic than one would expect to see in a film like this. Some fans complained that the ending was too reminiscent to that of 1408, and while it was similar, unlike 1408, the ending of Dark Skies wasn't nearly as predictable. The ending comes out of nowhere and as far as I'm concerned, it's the cherry on the sundae. Dark Skies wasn't as technical or scientific as the most of the Sci-Fi I like, but it was still quite entertaining and the ending made a good film that much better.
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2013
I wasn't sure about this science fiction thriller written and directed by Scott Stewart - mixed reviews were everywhere, and I made a decision to watch it. The story of the Barrett family : father Daniel (Josh Hamilton), mother Lacy (Keri Russell), oldest son Jesse (Dakota Goyo), and youngest son Sammy (Kadan Rockett) started building up quite nicely. Daniel has been out of work for at least three months, which has put a lot of strain on their marriage, and at night Jesse and Sammy communicate with each other - Jesse is reading scary stories about the Sandman, which frightens Sammy, but it distracts him from their parents' fighting. Suddenly, very strange things started happening to the family, including partially eaten food all over the kitchen floor, canned and packaged foods stacked up in towers all over the kitchen projecting a strange sign on the ceiling, picture frames empty, alarm system going off for no reason... and Sammy says that the Sandman did it before he came to his room. Everything went nice and smooth during that building of the story! I was involved in the storytelling and enjoyed the characters. Nothing more, though, after that.

It managed to build up some reasonable level of spookiness, and the suspense was just enough for decent entertainment. The ending and the last part were pure disappointment and after seeing it I could not understand the purpose of making the movie in the first place: was it to inform me, change my perception on the given subject or entertain me!? Didn't do any of those things fully and to the satisfactory level! I still decided to give it a positive review... just... because I could not put it in the category of bad movies.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ October 30, 2013
In this liberal society, I'm surprised that there aren't more people complaining about how this film is about some threatening figures breaking into a family's home and being identified, even by the title, as "Dark Skins". Oh no, wait, these aren't black people, these are just aliens, which is still kind of messed up, because even though they're breaking the law by getting in here in the first place, illegal Mexican immigrants don't go around breaking into people's homes. Man, I'm just working my way towards offending most everyone in this liberal society, though it's not like you people are that much better, because - speaking of misconceptions - plenty of you figured that this alien horror film was about ghosts or something, based on the fact that it's about a family being terrorized by mysterious creatures. So, what, are you saying that every haunted house film these days has to involve ghosts, you dirty scarcists? I don't know about y'all, but I was kind of expecting it to be fallen angels or something, because as Scott Stewart has taught us with something like "Legion" or "Priest", it's hard to even fully trust religious figures. Well, apparently it's even harder for Stewart to make a decent religious thriller, at least according to the other critics, so the man's just going to go ahead and get more traditionalist with his sci-fi thrillers, just to see if the response will be better. Well, I'd say Stewart has succeeded to some extent, because this is indeed getting better word-of-mouth than "Legion" and "Priest", and yet, this sci-fi thriller still isn't as thrilling as it could have been, and for several reasons.

Like I said, even though the antagonists are aliens, this is pretty much a haunted house film, and therefore technically a character study, yet the film is still seriously underdeveloped, providing only so much insight into the driving characters as anything more than types, as well as mere mediums for the thrills that should be complimented by the dramatic weight of its characters, who are too undercooked to be all that compelling, at least on paper. In the final product, the performances endear enough to keep the characters and, by extension, the narrative pumping, but there's still something distancing about the limited characterization, or at least seems to be behind atmospheric cold spells, for although director Scott Stewart doesn't kick on the atmosphere too much, when he does, it's not long before he runs out of tense material to meditate on, resulting in some serious dry spells that bland things up, while stiffening pacing enough for you to really sink your teeth into pacing problems within the overall structure of the plot. As much as I complain about how the film doesn't spend a whole lot of time fleshing out its characters, it sure does make time for fat around the edges, not unlike other "haunted house" flicks, going dragged out by excess material and filler that build and build on tension until, before too long, you lose grip on the tension, perhaps even focus. The film gets to be pretty aimless, and such pacing problems, combined with characterization problems, distance resonance, obviously not to where the film is rendered completely disengaging, but decidedly to where the film feels like it drags, and down a familiar path no less. The film is backed by unique subject matter, but it often betrays its potential uniqueness with a generic interpretation that bombards you with trope after trope, until the narrative which is built on ambiguities collapses into predictability, while laziness goes reflected, which is pretty ironic, considering that many of the film's problems come from overambition. Cheap scares and other subtlety issues are perhaps the clearest reflections of Scott Stewart's overwhelming desire to impress, but it's rarely difficult to see that this film wants to go further than it can, and that makes the pacing, resonance and originality problems all the clearer, until the final product collapses, almost to the brink of mediocrity. Well, that brink is not quite crossed in the end, because no matter how flawed the overambitious project may be, it keeps your investment going, or at least your aesthetic investment.

Perhaps best known for his work on television, David Boyd isn't too outstanding with his cinematographic efforts, but when he hits, he really delivers, cleverly playing with bleak lighting in a fashion that closes you in on the environment which drives much of the heart of this thriller, and therefore helps in capturing a sense of claustrophobia. As you can imagine, much of this very commercial film is superficial, even when it comes to aesthetics, so style is limited, but what style there is is pretty effective in selling this subject matter, though not without the help of highlights in Scott Stewart's directorial performance. Stewart's script is perhaps the film's most problematic aspect, and Stewart's directorial interpretation of it also has its problems, or at least a touch too much ambition, which, to be fair, has more than a few moments in which it becomes honest-to-goodness, inspiration, highlighted by moments in which atmospheric storytelling draws much in the way of tension, compelling, chilling and all around doing right by a story concept that deserves to be well-handled, even more so than it already is. Stewart's storytelling is formulaic to the point of diluting a sense of uniqueness, but quite frankly, if you step back and meditate upon it, there really is something pretty refreshing about this sci-fi thriller in concept, and that, alone, establishes some sense of intrigue, built upon by juicy ambiguities and some sharp dramatic layers. Now, note that the solid compliments that I just bestowed upon this film are primarily aimed at the fairly intelligent idea behind this story, which is ultimately told in a manner that is sloppy, but not to where you can completely ignore potential, which is most reflected by the aforementioned highlights within Stewart's directorial performance, as well as certain other performances. Where the story is more well-handled on paper than it is in its interpretation, the characters are interpreted more sharply than they are drawn, because no matter how undercooked formulaic characterization is in a lot of ways, the performances bring the characters to life, and even carry the film, with leads Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton and, to a lesser extent, Dakota Goyo being particularly effective with human dramatic layers that are perhaps more than this film deserves. The performances aren't stellar, but they're stronger than expected, ultimately proving to be about as endearing as any aspect in this faulty thriller, whose inspiration extends beyond acting enough to engage as decent, regardless of plenty of problems.

Once the skies have cleared, you're left with a thriller that is too underdeveloped, atmospherically dry, aimlessly draggy, formulaic and overambitious to engage as all that memorable, yet handsome and clever cinematography, generally effective direction behind an intriguing story concept, and strong lead performances make Scott Stewart's "Dark Skies" a decent sci-fi/haunted house thriller, even if it offers only so much worth praising, let along remembering.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
August 10, 2013
Dark Skies is the sort of horror film that should only tangentially be categorized as a horror film. It has the premise of a science fiction horror film, but the execution of a standard drama, with the horror elements tact on sloppily in its last act. It It's a film that seems to set itself up for something good, yet never quite pays off. Taken on its own merits, it works better as a simple science fiction drama than anything else.

The story in Dark Skies revolves around a suburban couple, who encounter an increasingly bizarre array of events, aimed at their family. They begin to question their sanity, and eventually arrive at the conclusion that it's alien forces at play. This makes for an interesting, if not somewhat familiar premise. The family feels well realized, and the performances by both Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton offer some promise. The film starts with a restrained approach to the subject matter, and then gradually gets in to the horror elements.

The problem, however, is that the buildup is too slow and never substantial enough for its last act. In the third act, things spin out of control, as none of the events feel earned. In this way, Dark Skies can be thought of as a muddled film. There's long stretches when nothing of note happens and, when it does, it never has the weight one would think it should have. The film is not exactly boring, but not scary. It's interesting, but not sufficiently intriguing for just a straight science fiction exercise. There's a lot to like, such as the individual moments involving the bird deaths or the kitchen scene, but they are never as tied together as one would like. This is the greatest fault of the movie, never sufficiently delivering on one particular category, be it scares, drama, or straight intrigue.

An overall misfire, but with some good elements.

3/5 Stars
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