The Darkest Hour 2011



I’m not sure if this is definitely a horror movie, but then alien invasion movies are usually pretty horrific aren’t they? From the blood injectors in War of the Worlds to the weirdo aliens in Xtro there have been plenty of scary-ass invasions over the years. In The Darkest Hour our fragile Earth is invaded by, er, electrical glows from another dimension. Can you see the problem here? We’re dealing with an ill defined threat. In fact, most of the time they are completely invisible… Ooh, look we’re watching people being attacked by nothing: this is not exciting.

Worse, when people do die at the hands of these transparent chaps they burn up a bit like a cross between the vampire deaths in the Blade films and the heat-rays in Spielberg’s version of War of the Worlds. It’s all sadly derivative and un-ambitious. Similar I suppose to Skyline, but lacking that film’s craziness the story centres on a group of Americans on a night out in Moscow when the world is invaded by the glowing and/or invisible thingymawhatsits. This is really the best aspect of the film, Moscow looks amazing, all the empty Red Square stuff and other tourist attractions have a lovely, almost beautiful, haunting quality about them when no one is around. Much like London in 28 Days Later, but here we are again, being derivative.

Wasting talents such as Emile Hirsch and especially Olivia Thirlby (who do their best bless ‘em) on a story that goes nowhere seems like madness to me. Was the script just not developed enough? Or were there once interesting bits, ironed out as it headed towards production? There are a few nice details, like how the aliens make electricity switch on when they are near, so the survivors scatter light bulbs everywhere as early warning signs. Plus there is some fun to be had with a cat, but these elements are few and far between.

The trouble with criticizing the horror genre is that it gets an awful lot of shit from the mainstream critics as it is, I feel like I’m kicking a puppy when I pick on a small film that at least tries. This, on the other hand seemed like a fair-sized studio picture that should have been more ambitious, or at least more interesting than just glowing see-through aliens, the Moscow setting and Olivia Thirlby, although the last two are very interesting indeed.



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