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Case Number 25764: Small Claims Court

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Dark Skies (Blu-ray)

Anchor Bay // 2013 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // June 3rd, 2013

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All Rise...

Judge Clark Douglas hopes that any aliens he encounters aren't quite so obnoxious.

The Charge

Once you've been chosen, you belong to them.

The Case

And now, an imagined conversation between Dark Skies writer/director Scott Stewart and producer Jason Blum.

Scott Stewart: "Hey, man. Thanks for taking the time to hear about my idea."

Jason Blum: "No problem. So tell me what you've been working on."

SS: "Well, it's a horror movie."

JB: "Nice. I've produced a bunch of those. The Paranormal Activity flicks, Insidious, Sinister."

SS: "Yeah, I heard that! That's actually why I wanted to meet with you."

JB: "Oh yeah?"

SS: "My movie…is all of your movies."

JB: "How do you mean?"

SS: "I mean, it takes the stuff people like from all of these movies and stuffs it into one movie. Plus more stuff."

JB: "Whoa. Are you serious?"

SS: "Serious as a man who just realized he built his house on top of an old Indian burial site."

JB: "Okay, so give me your pitch."

SS: "Well, it's about a family."

JB: "Are they gonna get terrorized?"

SS: "Eventually."

JB: "Good. Continue."

SS: "So, the movie opens with some shots of an ordinary American neighborhood. Everything's good, everybody's having fun, life is peaceful, etc."

JB: "Because later, things aren't going to be so good."

SS: "Right! So it's luring the viewer into a sense of false security."

JB: "Nice."

SS: "So anyway, this family: there's a mom played by Keri Russell—she was the waitress in Waitress—and there's a dad played by Josh Hamilton."

JB: "Who's he?"

SS: "He's been in stuff. I think he was in J. Edgar."

JB: "Was he the boyfriend?"

SS: "No, that's Arnie Hammer."

JB: "Oh. Is he as handsome as Arnie Hammer?"

SS: "Yeah, I guess."

JB: "Nice. Continue."

SS: "So, they have two kids—both boys—and they're just ordinary kids. So the first twenty or thirty minutes is just, y'know, family stuff."

JB: "Family stuff?"

SS: "Like, they pay bills and talk and fight and hug and stuff."

JB: "Gotcha."

SS: "Oh, and the dad is looking for a job, because y'know, the economy and everything, so we want to be relevant."

JB: "Is this movie about the economy?"

SS: "I'm just kinda throwing it out there. But yeah, sure."

JB: "So when does the family get terrorized?"

SS: "Oh, yeah, that happens next. Crazy things start happening around the house. Furniture gets re-arranged, house alarms get set off for no reason, photographs get erased—there's like a bunch of that stuff, and it escalates each time."

JB: "And they try to look for a natural explanation first, right?"

SS: "Right."

JB: "And eventually they come to realize it has to be something crazy?"

SS: "Right."

JB: "But nobody believes them?"

SS: "Right."

JB: "Is there security camera footage of freaky stuff happening?"

SS: "Oh, yeah. Like fifteen minutes of the movie is just the dad looking at security camera footage."

JB: "Excellent. So what happens next?"

SS: "Well, the family is still trying to figure out what's going on, so…"

JB: "So they call in an expert who everybody thinks is crazy but who actually has a bunch of helpful tips on how to deal with this unexplainable supernatural stuff?"

SS: "Right!"

JB: "And he's played by a character actor who can come in and deliver a bunch of exposition and not make it too boring, right?"

SS: "Yeah. J.K. Simmons."

JB: "Nice! My kids love Harry Potter."

SS: "No, this is the guy from those insurance commercials."

JB: "Oh, yeah, those are fun. Mayhem!"

SS: "No, the other guy."

JB: "Ohhhh, yeah. The farmer."

SS: "Close enough."

JB: "Continue."

SS: "So, anyway, they finally figure out what the supernatural stuff is…"

JB: "Ghosts?"

SS: "Uh-uh."

JB: "Demons?"

SS: "Nope."

JB: "It's all in the mom's head and she's not really married and she's in a mental hospital at the end and it was all a dream inspired by the loss of her children?"

SS: "Um, no. It's actually aliens."

JB: "Aliens! Wait, how much is this going to cost?"

SS: "Not much. You don't really see 'em or anything. They kind of just wander in and out of the house and make security camera footage all static-y."

JB: "Oh. So they're like ghosts?"

SS: "Right. But actually aliens."

JB: "Nice."

SS: "And during the final act, we put some more symbolism and stuff in there—a bunch of patriotic anthems, you know, to give the whole thing resonance."

JB: "Wait…are these aliens supposed to represent illegal aliens trying to invade America?"

SS: "Um…I don't really…I mean, I guess if you want them to be."

JB: "That's edgy, man, really edgy."

SS: "Cool. Thanks."

JB: "Well, I have to say, I like what I'm hearing so far. It sounds pretty much like a bunch of other horror movies that have done well at the box office, and I like that. Just a few more questions."

SS: "Yeah?"

JB: "Does the ending give us room to make sequels?"

SS: "Already working on Darker Skies."

JB: "Can we make it for less than $5 million?"

SS: "Yup."

JB: "Will it look good on Blu-ray?"

SS: "Gonna have a 1080p/2.40:1 transfer that will look freaking fantastic. Great detail, depth, shadow delineation—a rock-solid transfer all around."

JB: "Will the audio rock the house?"

SS: "The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is gonna be super-immersive and nuanced. Impressive on every level."

JB: "Is there gonna be a bunch of bonus features?"

SS: "I was thinking the two of us could do a commentary. Maybe get editor Peter Gvozdas and executive producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones to get in there with us, too. Plus some alternate scenes. And maybe a DVD for the old folks and a digital copy for the young folks."

JB: "Cool. Well, I'm on board."

SS: "Awesome! Thanks."

JB: "Hey, not that it matters, but what kind of critical response do you think it's gonna get?"

SS: "I mean, if I had to guess, the average critic would probably say that it's a run-of-the-mill horror movie that is competently crafted but doesn't offer anything new."

JB: "Exactly what I wanted to hear!"

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• English (SDH)
• Spanish
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Blu-ray
• Horror
• Science Fiction
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Alternate Scenes
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy


• IMDb

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