Netflix and CHILLS, Part One
Season’s Greetings, Deadies!
In this series of blog posts, I review and discuss horror films currently streaming on Netflix.
First up is DARK SKIES, a sci-fi horror thriller from Blumhouse Studios and starring Keri Russell, with a cameo from J.K. Simmons, which I mention because his performance is the best part of the film.
DARK SKIES follows the story of the Barrett family, who lead a typical middle-class suburban existence on the outskirts of a nameless American city. Lacy Barrett (Keri Russell) is a fledgling real-estate agent trying to hold her marriage together while unemployed bread-winner Daniel struggles to find work while failing as a good stay-at-home dad to his sons – the rebellious 13 year-old Jesse and younger (6-ish) Brandon, a troubled, socially-awkward boy who is suffering from nightmares about The Sandman, a menacing evil presence that is eventually revealed to be something more.
DARK SKIES struggles to be two films: a dark mash-up of Poltergeist and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There are tributes to both films, more so on the Close Encounters side, but sadly, DARK SKIES offers nothing you haven’t seen before – and better.
The set-up goes on far too long, and most of the film winds up feeling more like one of the lesser, tepid episodes of The X-Files. One scene demonstrating that The Sandman can take possession of his victims has Keri Russell’s Lacy bashing her forehead against a sliding glass door during a real-estate showing in a scene that was supposed to be terrifying but had me LOL-ing instead.
Only in the last thirty minutes does the film take a turn for the better, thanks largely to the performance of veteran character actor J.K. Simmons, who plays Edwin Pollard, a former victim of The Sandman who explains the true identity of this supernatural menace, as well as his otherworldly intent. Even with this formulaic, lackluster script, Simmons elevates the film and allows DARK SKIES to have a respectable conclusion.
DARK SKIES would’ve worked better as a short film – say thirty minutes, max. It just might have kept the viewer off balance enough to be enjoyable, as well as better conveying the nifty nostalgia. At over double that length, it’s a flying saucer that crashed to Earth with very little of interest to be discovered in the wreckage.
Thanks for reading!