“Dark Skies”: A Nickell-odeon Review

March 4, 2013

Help! Alien beings are abducting us! At least that is the message of the movie Dark Skies (released in February 2013).

Actually it is just another would-be scary flick (yawn) composed of elements from previous examples of the genre: The Amityville Horror (a dysfunctional family is terrorized), The Last Exorcism (family members sometimes seem possessed), Paranormal Activity (shadowy figures are surveiled by video), Hitchcock’s The Birds (avian flocks dive-bomb the house), and so on, not to mention The Wolfman (there are frequent shots of a full moon) and Signs (crop-circlelike designs appear on a boy’s body).

The most interesting thing about Dark Skies (not interesting enough for you to actually go see the movie though) is its treatment of alien abductions. The “expert” the parents consult tells them that, while some abductees eventually return, most do not. And, when the family’s son Jesse goes missing, we see a newspaper’s headlines, “Parents Suspected in Disappearance of Son.”

Actually, alien “abductions” represent a different class of paranormal reports—typically like those in John Mack’s Abduction (1994). Invariably, we have the abductees’ claims (typically identifiable as some type of vivid dream, vision, or hallucination) because they have returned to tell about their experience.

Conversely, only in rare instances (the Travis Walton case for example, a probable hoax) is an actual disappearance in any way linked to supposed alien visitations. Whether the missing person is Jimmy Hoffa or Chandra Levy, there are much much more plausible explanations for the vanishing than nefarious actions by “the Grays” (the culturally evolved, now stereotypical alien of today’s encounters).

These two categories notwithstanding, Dark Skies may yet add to the number of credulous folk who become convinced—like countless people—that they are being stalked by aliens (just as others believe they are haunted by ghosts or plagued by demons). That possibility suggests it is cynical movie hucksters who are the actual predators, using, as Dark Skies suggested, people’s fears against them.

Rating: one wooden nickel (out of four)

One Nickel