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Enter Sandman.

Dark Skies is written and directed by Scott Stewart. It stars Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kaden Rockett and J.K. Simmons. Music is by Joseph Bishara and cinematography by David Boyd.

Two possibilities exist... Either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying. - Arthur C. Clarke

Movies involving alien visitations are notoriously tricky things to execute, there's a very thin line between cerebral willingness and crummy construction. Dark Skies unsurprisingly is another in a long line of sci-fi/horror movies that divides the respective genre followers.

Plot finds the Barrett family home suddenly succumbing to mysterious phenomena, suicidal birds, time lapses, poltergeist activity, nightmares and body markings et al...

It's a film that most definitely didn't deliver the spook fest that the (mixed) marketing campaign suggested, while it unfortunately comes off as a collage of well known genre titles of recent pasts. Add to this some less than great acting from the adult leads, the complete waste of J.K. Simmons in a very promising role, and unoriginality of concepts, then it's not hard to see why it has been the victim of venom in some quarters.

However, Scott Stewart is not guilty of taking the easy route to genre cinema as per production. There's no over reliance on CGI, or for big booms and crashes to startle in the name of cheap thrills, in fact the scare scenes are well placed and well timed. He also proves to be a very good purveyor of slow burn atmospherics, itself something that can alienate the more boisterous and excitable genre fans.

The vision of a suburban American family under siege is well played out, the little trials and tribulations of a working class family not swamping the big objective, so when things gather apace and the child actors come to the fore, time invested by the patient is rewarded.

If at times it doesn't have the courage of its convictions, Dark Skies at the very least doesn't resort to alien abduction clichés to seal its deal. There's a number of "issues" with it, especially if you are either into clinical alien abduction science (history) or edge of your seats underwear shocks, but this is above average and worth a viewing for those interested in such dalliances. 6/10

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