Dark Skies: Parental Angst and Societal Paranoia Go Supernatural
By Blood E. Bastard-
â€œWorryâ€ is a word (or at least a sentiment) perpetually on the minds of most people in the world today. â€œWill I lose my job?â€ â€œWill I get cancer?â€ â€œAm I a good parent?â€ â€œWill my family be victim of the next act of terror?â€â€¦ The list goes on and on.
As I viewed Dark Skies, these were questions I felt I could safely put out of mind for 97 minutes. While my screening of any film needs to be very active and engaged, I am usually able to leave my real world angst on the floor next to my easy chair when I am â€œworkingâ€.
As a husband and father, I was immediately able to identify with Daniel (Josh Hamilton) and Lacy (Keri Russell). We meet them and their two sons Jesse and Sam practically at the bottom of their lives together so far. Daniel, an engineer, is grasping at straws for his big break back into the workforce, while Lacy is a walking contradiction â€“ a Real Estate agent who, in spite of her own desperation, puts her clients needs first. Their kids are floating in an unintended sea of emotional neglect.
Priorities shift for the Barrettâ€™s when they become seemingly under attack by a series of bizarre and – in some cases – literally unbelievable occurrences. Logic and rational thinking are the inclination of them and those around them when these occurrences begin: household objects are lifted and dropped from mid-air; three separate flock of birds converge on their home in a synchronized attack; their home alarm goes off indicating an intruder at every entrance.
It is not until they themselves begin displaying strange behavior that the Barrettâ€™s look for a less than obvious answer. It at this point they seek out the help of the reclusive Edwin Pollard (J. K. Simmons) who attempts to open the familyâ€™s minds to a possible extraterrestrial answer to their problem.
Writer/director Scott Stewart brings us a story much more intimate than his previous outings â€“ Priest and Legion. This level of closeness and familiarity allows him to illustrate terror on a much more personal level. Witnessing your child surrounded by formless specters in your own home is far more terrifying than any image of battling fallen angels or vampire-slaying clergymen.
While I overall found the film a bit slow, it was my own reflection on the utter powerlessness and loss of control being experienced by each member of the Barrett clan that grabbed me. Concerns such as, â€œWhat will the neighbors think about our home?â€ and â€œ Should our son be hanging around with that older boy?â€ become incidental when the forces of nature and the supernatural begin to make your life truly unpredictable and complicated.