Dark Skies: DVD and Blu-ray

Tuesday, 06 August 2013 00:00
Posted in Blu-Ray
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Dark Skies - the movie - out on Blu-ray and DVDThe phrase ‘from the producers of “Sinister” and “Insidious”’ tells you all you need to know about “Dark Skies” (not at all related to the TV series co-created  by Bryce Zabel). If you enjoyed those movies and found yourself creeped-out by them, then this film is guaranteed to deliver. This time around it is not ghosts or demons lurking in the shadows, but rather some extremely spooky aliens in the ‘grey’ mould. The extraterrestrials have latched on to a suburban family and are intent on making their lives a living hell.

The Barrett family consists of mum Lacy (Keri Russell – The Americans, “Mission: Impossible III”), dad Daniel (Josh Hamilton – “The Bourne Identity”, “J. Edgar”), teenage son Jesse (Dakota Goyo – “Real Steel”, “Rise of the Guardians”) and his younger brother Sam (Kadan Rockett). With Dan desperately looking for work and Jesse getting up to no good with his friends, the last thing the family needs is an alien invasion!

As with the producers’ previous work - which also includes “Paranormal Activity” - the symptoms of the aliens’ presence start small and build up to a crescendo. Household objects are displaced, family members start acting strangely and Sam talks about being visited by an ominous figure called ‘The Sandman’. With the exception of a small amount of CCTV footage reviewed during the film, there is no ‘found footage’, but rather the movie plays out as a standard chiller-thriller.

If you do like the horror films mentioned above as well as Shyamalan’s wonderfully understated “Signs”, “Dark Skies” will scare the living daylights out of you. The pacing is rapid and the tension ratchets up in expertly-applied increments. There are plenty of sudden shocks to complement the more gradual sources of fear, and director Scott Stewart (Defiance, “Legion”) has definitely learnt from his earlier miss-steps by crafting a very efficient, very effective horror movie.

Stewart utilises the tried-and-tested technique of smoothly, almost languidly following behind characters as they wander about the house investigating disturbances, forbidding the viewer from getting the jump on whatever is around the next corner or lurking behind the door.  We have seen this method applied over and over again but it never fails to inspire trepidation if done well, and it certainly is here.

As with many of the team’s previous movies, the acting is solid and has a very natural feel to it, and plenty of time is taken to establish the characters and their relationships. This is a family you immediately care about and that makes the horrendous mismatch between their vulnerability and the aliens’ unknowable superiority all the more troubling.

Essentially, if you know what you like and are not expecting anything very original, “Dark Skies” is certainly worth seeking out. If, on the other hand, you are fed up with the same old pattern of family-in-peril, terror-escalation horror movies, I suggest you look elsewhere despite this film being very well put-together.

The Blu-ray version reviewed features high picture quality with plenty of range in terms of contrast and colour tone. It also brings out the best in the guttural bass and high-pitched whine in the soundtrack as something bad is about to happen (which it does with alarming regularity!).

Special features on both formats include:

  • Commentary with writer/director Scott Stewart, producer Jason Blum, executive producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and editor Peter Gvozdas
  • Alternate and deleted scenes

 

The commentary track hits the sweet spot where information meets entertainment, and as a consequence it is worth seeking out. All of the crew involved have been round the block enough times to know what they are talking about but at the same time they manage to maintain a high interest level.

“Dark Skies” (2013) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Entertainment One. The main feature has a running time of 97 minutes approx. (93 mins on DVD), carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £17.99 on DVD and £19.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Sunday, 11 August 2013 05:31

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