Dark Skies (2013)

Not unlike “Sinister” or “Insidious” but with aliens: That’s pretty much the best way to describe this seriously-not-bad genre entry, which has a number of truly effective chills here and there, even as it occasionally borders on unimaginative. It’s a shame that so many of its earlier scenes recall Tobe Hooper’s “Poltergeist” (in particular a scene where Keri Russell finds a number of objects moved around in the kitchen, which strongly recalls the memorable moment in “Poltergeist” when JoBeth Williams finds the kitchen chairs mounted on the table), because it takes you out of its own narrative by reminding you of a better movie. Additionally, Russell isn’t particularly good in the lead role: This seems to be a job-for-hire for the usually-terrific performer, and her disinterested delivery often betrays the unfortunate mediocrity of the screenplay, which is in sharp contrast with co-star Josh Hamilton, who does most of the heavy lifting here, and he’s terrific. It helps that Scott Stewart is a better director than screenwriter, and he manages to extract an impressive amount of genuine scares from the increasingly isolated house setting, while the malevolent presence of the aliens is a constant threat that occasionally delivers scares that could turn your blood cold. So it’s not great, but it’s definitely worth a shot.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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