Don’t go over to Dark Skies

It seems that aliens are all the rage in movies these days. Those eerie E.T.s are always part of the big blockbusters, but rarely are they in horror films. And so we have “Dark Skies,” which sells itself as a tense horror-thriller with aliens. The key word here being “sells,” because “Dark Skies” fails to do anything remotely suspenseful or horrifying with its premise.

Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton play Lacy and Daniel Barrett, a couple facing hard times trying to raise their two kids Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and Sam (Kadan Rockett). When they experience strange phenomena like blackouts, possessions, mass bird deaths and bizarre break-ins, they soon suspect an alien presence is at work.

Believe it or not, the first half actually works as a dark suspense thriller. With each new incident, the family slowly loses their minds as they try to understand what’s happening. But any momentum is killed when the events turn more into cheap scares than anything truly suspenseful.

Many of the story beats are borrowed from “Close Encounters,” “Signs” and even “Paranormal Activity,” and only make the outcome more predictable. The aliens here are nothing new, just your average hostile abductors sticking probes into people. Real suspense gives way to cliché action by the film’s end, and all we’re left with is an idiotic plot twist and a cop-out of an ending. By the time J.K. Simmons shows up as an alien expert, we’ve given up hope of seeing anything truly horrifying with this story.

To the film’s credit, the four leads convincingly pull off losing their sanity, but the story’s just not interesting enough to bring us in. This had the makings of a great suspense thriller, but all the aliens really abducted were our time and money.