Much like Insidious, Dark Skies takes the approach of using all the familiar tropes of a genre and creating a sort of greatest hits movie. Whereas Insidious went for the haunted house story, here we have alien abduction. So the usual stuff is wheeled out: weird symbols, kids looking up at the sky, long limbed aliens, metal rods prodded into holes, that sort of thing.
Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are the hapless put upon parents, struggling to bring up bring up two difficult boys during the current financial struggles. The last thing they need is stupid aliens anally probing them. Actually that never happens. But pretty much everything else you’d expect to happen to them does. They black out, skip a day, nose bleed left, right and centre and scream at nothing in particular. Plus there’s the tricky problem of their kids looking more and more beaten up and no one, oddly enough, believing that aliens did it. You know what, these aliens are a right bunch of bastards. They manipulate this poor family seemingly for no other reason than to freak them out. There’s a good sense of the hopelessness at even understanding this higher plane of evil, let alone fighting back against it. As J.K. Simmons, playing a world weary expert on the matter, points out, we are no more cable of understanding why the aliens are doing this to us, than a lab rat can understand the scientist experimenting on it.
Trouble is we’ve all been here before. Bringing in elements of Close Encounters, Communion, The X Files, etc. Dark Skies, although well put together with solid acting, a few okay chills and the afore-mentioned J.K. Simmons, doesn’t bring anything new to the table. What worked so brilliantly in Insidious was the kitchen sink approach to story telling: just chuck everything at it, and create your own mad tale. Dark Skies settles for just retreading, and so settles for much less.