Courtesy: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment
Dark Skies was met largely with mixed reviews when it originally debuted in theaters early in 2013. This movie proved to be another work for which there was no grey area. Either audiences liked it or they hated it. Those that panned it seemed to do so mostly because of the expectations of it being a horror movie. Those same individuals obviously weren’t or aren’t fans of science fiction, as (not to spoil the movie too much) that’s what it really turned out to be. It turned out to be more psychological science fiction thriller than horror. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even this critic went into the movie, having not seen it during its stint in theaters, expecting it to be just another ghost story. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that that wasn’t the case. As a matter of fact, it was that surprise twist that helped to make this underappreciated thriller an edge-of-the-seat thriller that is deserving of being seen at least once.
What makes Dark Skies worth being seen at least once is the manner in which Writer/Director Scott Stewart has managed to take advantage of that line between science fiction and horror that has become increasingly blurred through the modern history of movies. That same blurred line is what irked many viewers and critics. But odds are those individuals that were so bothered by the story’s surprise were specifically horror fans rather than science fiction fans or a combination of both. What’s more, the expectation among so many horror fans today is that a horror movie apparently can’t be horror without a significant amount of bloodshed. That in itself is a sad statement. Those expecting such levels of violence and bloodshed won’t get that from this movie. Stewart has proven that his movie doesn’t need all of that, either in order to be successful. It does well enough without the sex, violence, and bloodshed, as it pays tribute to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, and specific other classic horror and sci-fi flicks. There’s even something of a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, The Birds tossed in for good measure. Stewart was not trying to directly rip off said movies or anger viewers who have become far too accustomed to unnecessary story elements. Rather, he was paying tribute to the classics and proving at the same time, that movies with real substance still have a place in today’s overly crowded market of otherwise dry works that try to cover up their lack of substance with those unnecessary extremes.
Dark Skies has quite a bit which makes it a successful work, despite what other critics might want to believe. For all the positives to this undervalued work, it isn’t without at least one fault. That major fault would be the scene transitions. Many of the movie’s scene transitions early on feel like little more than a grouping of jump cuts, making following the story not as easy as it perhaps could be. Luckily, if one allows one’s self to become engaged in the story, one will see that the jump cut feeling in question does eventually make way for better transitions. In turn, one will better enjoy the story right up to its surprise twist ending, which is yet another of the story’s positives.
The surprise twist ending is just one more of so many positives that make Dark Skies a movie worth seeing for anyone that is open minded enough to give it a chance. Just as interesting as the story’s twist ending is the deleted scene that was the original ending sequence included in the bonus deleted scenes featurette on the brand new Blu-ray/DVD/VUDU combo pack. Viewers can watch the original ending both with and without commentary, along with a whole grouping of other deleted scenes. The bonus commentary does add even more appreciation for the work that went into making each scene. Though even in watching the deleted scenes without commentary, audiences can gain just as much appreciation for what was and was not used in the final film. It’s yet more proof of the value of bonus features in a movie’s home release. It is those bonus deleted scenes, along with everything else that went into making this movie that makes it worth another watch now that it’s available on Blu-ray/DVD/VUDU. Dark Skies is available today in stores and online.
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