Dark Skies (2013)

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Director: Scott Stewart

Writer: Scott Stewart

Stars: Kerri Russell, Jake Brennan, Josh Hamilton

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Sci-Fi

I want you to close your eyes right now and picture the life you have. Good. Now, keep your eyes shut and imagine if that was all taken from you; the mobility, the freedom and the lifestyle to which has laid a comfortable cushion that has watered down the human struggle. The 2013 film Dark Skies drives this point home from the very onset of the story where we are shown the streets of a normal, quite and suburban Middle-American town. Flags of the Red, White and Blue are waving gallantly on the porches of citizens. Kids arriving home from school, biking and playing in the yard. All seems well, and so it should be. However, behind the scenes, all is not well and it starts within the home of the Barret family.

You can take Dark Skies for what it is on the surface; a paranormal horror story about a family being harassed by intelligent life forms that have existed on our planet for eons for the sole purpose of experimentation and observation. However, this is Cinematic Underdogs & Overcats though; where we like to delve into the messages, themes and the connections that have been laid out for us to notice and question. Some people treat their movie watching like they treat their beer drinking: On one hand you can pick up a case of Coors light, Natural Ice or any other expensive water and binge drink the shit out of it like a sorority girl after exam week. Or, you can pick up some delectable craft brews, imported Ales or Czech Lagers and give your taste buds some time to savor the labor that went into it and understand why your mouth just gasmed due to the orgy of ingredients bumping uglies on your tongue. What I am trying to say is that this film can be treated either as a Coors light or a fine English Ale. I choose to treat it like the former.

ImageThe film stars Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton as Lacy and Daniel Barrett, a typical suburban couple with two sons (Dakota Goyo as the pre-teen Jesse and Kadan Rockett as the younger Sam) trying to make their version of the American dream work. She works in real estate and he is an out of work designer/architect and the stresses of standard upper-middle class life are starting to creep in. We see this at various points in the form of overdue mortgage notices, tense money conversations between the couple and a painful job interview for Daniel early in the film that clearly doesn’t go well. Against the backdrop of a lovely home and a nice neighborhood, the pressure of their situation is quite real and relatable. As a male viewer you could connect with the struggles of Daniel Barret if you fall into the program of marriage and the institutional principles that it follows. As Daniel is a good father and family man, his status as provider dwindles with his lack of job prospects and failed interviews. We see this translate into the bedroom at night where his wife Lacy ignores his sexual advances. Marriage is not for everyone, and for most modern men the costs far outweigh the benefits. Case in point: In the one scene Daniel is clearly looking to play a little tonsil hockey with his wife after a long stressful day, or better yet, wanting to perform the “Plundering Pirate” or “Starved Gargoyle”  due to his clear sexual frustrations. She however, keeps typing away on her Mac Book doing something that could very well be taken care of in the morning instead of having some fun with her man.

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Financials are a big issue when it comes to relationships and they ruin/take the fun out of everything. In reality, if a husband isn’t satisfied sexually (motivation) he will not perform at optimal capacity as a provider, and likewise, if the wife isn’t satisfied about the amount of resources (motivation) the family has, or has coming in, this will overwhelm and take-over her thought process, and sex will be the last thing on her mind since women tend to nest; if the nest is falling apart, so does everything else. This is clearly shown when later on in the film Daniel finally gets a new job and thus Lacy jumps all over his d*ck like a German kid on strudel. It is all very telling, and all very strange. This is a generalization though and isn’t the case for all marriages, relationships and people the like, however, there is a rule for a reason no matter the exceptions.

The one thing I found really funny, however, was the whole time Lacy is complaining about the family finances she wasn’t even producing results at her own job. She had the opportunity to close a house deal with a family(several times), but ultimately caved to her emotions and told the buyers that they shouldn’t buy the home because “they could do better”. What the hell is that shit? You’re a Real-Estate Agent Lacy! Your job is to sell, sell, sell, lie and close, not to play emotional patty-cake with your clients: Amateur-hour at its finest. Don’t go putting it all on your husband when you too aren’t stuffing that piggy-bank like a strippers G-string. I guess that’s “marriage”. Moving on.

ImageThe family eventually begins to experience some strange goings on in the form of what seems like B&E’s and/or kids messing with them. These disturbances grow in severity however, and become very creepy very quickly. This escalates rapidly and takes the threat directly to each member of the family in and outside the home. An incident with Sam in the park, a startling scene with Lacy and a bunch of birds and a truly scary sequence involving Sam being ‘transported’ outside the house late at night build the feeling of fear and confusion. One of the better parts of the film for me was when the husband introduced an expensive home surveillance kit for the entirety of the house to which I immediately took reference to the film The Purge which was also in association with Blum House Productions. Both of these films made this societal comment on the state of affairs American’s face in today’s world when we are afraid of the boogyman (terrorists, communists, and Global Warming).

No amount of security will protect you and your family from the boogyman. If terrorists want to bomb the holy shit out of an airport, they will find a way. Your odds of getting killed by a terrorist or being involved in a terror related accident are just as slim as your chance at becoming America’s next top model.  The police/surveillance state is never the answer and what we ultimately do is imprison ourselves and allow our governments to abuse that power to ultimately control its peoples every move. The Barret family was afraid of the boogyman (the aliens) and what did they do? They did the only thing that they thought would help, however, they did finally realize that no amount of “safety” could protect them from the evil/terror that only they themselves could defeat.

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At this stage, we get into the most common themes and events that occur in various home invasion/haunting/alien types of films where one person is trying to convince a spouse, friends or whomever that something supernatural is going on. The conversations and frustrations surrounding this type of thing are expected and uninteresting. There is only so many times you can see someone discover data about a house’s history or previous events or whatever else before it becomes as common as tying one’s shoes. Plus, the piecing together of said facts seems a little rushed and a little too convenient to be plausible. I use the Internet all the damned time and I couldn’t have worked it together anywhere close to as fast as is done in this film.

ImageThis leads to the inevitable shaman/expert type of scene where the family must seek out an expert to try to put it all together. The whole investigation about the conspiracy of an alien race living on our planet and observing our every move was an awesome plot-line and something you would only find off of the conspiracy web site GodLike Productions. I am actually beginning to think that the possibility of the writers of this film scrolling through some GLP posts about mass bird die-offs and the Annunaki/Grey’s being in control of our planet to give this film some legs is certainly a plausible thought to wonder.

Ultimately, this film showed that self-reliance and taking responsibility for the harms/problems that come to you and your family can only be properly dealt with when you take control of the situation. Just like the Barret family’s life and finances; things didn’t start to get sorted out until they stopped deluding themselves and pulled their heads out of their ass’s and did something about it.

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