The new chiller Dark Skies opens in Irish cinemas today, Wednesday April 3. Paddy Kehoe gives his verdict.
Dark Skies comes from the producers of Insidious and Sinister, those perpetually jumpy slices of threatened family life, set in the neat suburban fastnesses of the US. Sinister, certainly, was all hollow effect, relying too much on deafening sound. Dark Skies is a tad more subtle.
The Barretts are a likable family who happen to be in trouble anyway before things start going bump in the night. Dad Daniel (Josh Hamilton) is trying to get back into the world of graphic design. Mum Lacy (Keri Russell) is working for a real estate firm, but she doesn't seem to be a great seller.
So, it’s not like one of those movies where everything is hunky dory and suburban smug is suddenly jeopardised by trouble out of the blue. It's more a gnawing, incremental build-up to serious, Grade 1 terror we are talking here.
The Barretts' two sons are Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and cute little Sammy (Kadan Rockett). Sammy goes to bed at night, and as he tells his mother, hears from the Sandman in his dreams. He has told Sammy that he will take out his eyes. Yikes, in short.
Then Lacy - the mother - begins to see odd things in the middle of the night. There’s a whole mess of foodstuffs spilled on the floor, coke foaming out of a can inexplicably. Or, another night, tins and bottles have been arranged into a weird installation in the kitchen, something nobody in the house can explain.
So the cop is called, and he tells the already-strapped family - in debt with the unpaid mortgage - to reactivate their house alarm account. Money well spent, he says - until one night the alarm goes off with a screaming, piercing loudness.
Director Stewart ratchets up the suspense expertly and odder things start happening. Daniel notices what looks like a strange bite mark behind his ear; Lacy has what seems like a breakdown or mini-stroke while in the middle of a walk-through with some clients. Daniel feels the only recourse is to install CCTV, with cameras in all rooms...
Dark Skies is a pretty good and pretty spooky film which ends in such a way that there will almost certainly be a sequel.