It has been a bell of a half-decade for Blumhouse Productions. The production company made its name with the release of the independent titan, Paranormal Activity. And, say what you want about that film, but it remains one of the most perfectly marketed, and commercially successful genre titles of all time. Since then the company has gone on to release titles such as the Paranormal Activity sequels(of course) Insidious, Sinister, Dark Skies, which is the title we’ll be discussing today, as well as some upcoming films that are sure to do some serious business, such as The Purge, and Insidious: Chapter 2.
All of these films share a similar theme, in that they’re haunted house movies, but with a twist. With Paranormal Activity, we were given all of the spooks and chills that come with a normal haunted house movie, only in the style of a found footage movie, made popular by another extremely successful film, The Blair Witch Project. Insidious took the haunting out of the house, and put it within us, and Dark Skies has all the trimmings of a haunted house movie, but is very much not.
All of the standard haunting mechanisms are present here, perhaps each with their own little twist, as we’re not dealing with ghosts here, at all. Unexplained, overly loud noises, household objects being manipulated while everyone in the house is asleep, or otherwise absent and even physical altercations that leave wounds on members of the family. This film does a good job at utilizing techniques that gold standard haunted house movies, such as Poltergeist, used to make their haunting eerie and effective, and applies them to a completely different category of film.
You have a pretty good idea early in the run time, as to what exactly is going on here, but that doesn’t detract from the slow building dread that the viewer will feel, well up until the big reveal. I’m sure if you’ve seen a trailer or two, you know somewhat what to expect. Let’s face it, trailers are horrible now. Instead of teasing potential viewers, and putting ideas into our heads as to what we might have in store for us, they show film spoilers, often times spell out the entire plot of the film, and even show the ending of the film in some cases. I’m not going to ruin the fun for you, and tell you what to expect, I’ll just say that, as far as this “type” of movie goes, I personally feel that Dark Skies is one of the more effective titles to choose from. It’s been several years, in my opinion, since a quality film utilizing this particular antagonist was released, especially theatrically.
I have heard mixed reactions to this movie, but I don’t think I’ve spoken to anyone that outright hated it. In my opinion, it’s well worth a rental, and if you generally like to re-watch movies you’ve enjoyed at a later date, and, perhaps show it to friends whom you feel would find enjoyment in such a film, Dark Skies is well worth the $15.00 you’re likely to pay for the Blu Ray, give or take a dollar or two, depending on where you shop for movies.
One thing that this release is lacking, is quality extra features. Studios these days are focusing on including more ways to watch the film in their releases, such as ultraviolet/digital copy/Blu-Ray/DVD Combo, etc. etc. I have no problem with this, as I actually think we should start phasing out standalone DVD releases, and begin releasing everything as a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo, but I don’t think in doing so, they should have to sacrifice deleted scenes, or featurettes that would have been included otherwise. I mean, this is Blu-Ray technology here. In its current form, a single disc gives us 50 gigabytes worth of data to fill. Perhaps all consumers are not concerned with learning more about the movies they enjoy, but enough of us are to warrant the inclusion of extras such as these. Beyond that though, this is an excellent release. The picture quality is perfect, as is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is included. Dark Skies is release today, 5/28/2013 on DVD, Blu-Ray/DVD Combo as well as all major Video On Demand outlets, digital and otherwise.