The alien invasion genre comes and goes, and for the last couple of years, invaders from beyond have taken theaters by storm. The Darkest Hour found its way to Blu-ray DVD and into the hands of Major Spoilers, which means we simply had to pop it into the player and take a peek.
THE DARKEST HOUR
Producers: Timur Bekmambetov, Tom Jacobson, Stephen A. Marinaccio, Charles Salmon, Iva Stromilova, Monnie Wills, Lulu Zezza
Director: Chris Gorak
Writers: Jon Spaihts, Leslie Bohem, M.T. Ahern
Sean – Emile Hirsch
Natalie – Olivia Thirlby
Ben – Max Minghella
Anne – Rachel Taylor
Skyler – Joel Kinnaman
Vika – Veronika Vernadskaya
SYNOPSIS: In Moscow, five young people lead the charge against an alien race who have attacked Earth via our power supply.
NO ONE MAKES IT OUT ALIVE
Released in 2011, The Darkest Hour follows a couple of young Internet entrepreneurs to Russia where they hope to find investors for their widget. Unfortunately, their business partner rips them off, and it looks like the trip has been a big bust for the duo – until they meet a couple of attractive American girls traveling the globe looking for fun.
Then the aliens attack.
The aliens are here for our natural resources, and they use an electrified cloaking device to hide their true identities. The heroes go into hiding while the world is all but completely wiped out, and the story ends up being one of survival after the attack – similar to the second half of War of the Worlds. It’s actually a really interesting concept, it’s just too bad the story falls short on so many levels.
The biggest trope of the horror genre is that no one makes it out alive, and that’s the case here as one by one the characters make that one mistake that gets them snatched up by the electrified balls of energy. The one twist the writers pulled off effectively was which of the central characters would survive and which would end up biting it, and I will say that I was surprised by who ended up dying, and when.
I’m okay with the idea that heroes and viewers are thrown into the aftermath of the invasion without any knowledge of what the aliens are and why they are attacking, but what I still need from the entire crew is a reason to really like the characters. Sure we want them to be reunited with their families and fall in love with each other, but I also need character development and need to see the characters grow and develop as the story plays out. This really doesn’t happen. There is a really neat bonus feature on the DVD that features other survivors around the world and how they end up communicating and figuring out a way to take down the aliens. The characters in that ten minute special were more interesting than those in the main feature.
TECHNICAL BITS SHINE
While the overall story was rather dull, its the technical achievements that make the movie shine. The special effects used to create the aliens, and kill the humans are incredibly cool. The spiral tearing and sound effects that play out when this happens is so worth watching again and again, and then step through it one more time one frame at a time. I’ve tooled around the Internet looking for a special effects breakdown but even CineFex didn’t have much on the process.
BOTTOM LINE: So-So
I really wanted to like The Darkest Hour; the concept, effects, and setting seem to be something that would draw the fans in, which is why I’m so frustrated the movie was so dull. For a B-movie, The Darkest Hour hits the right marks, and if you’re looking for something to watch on a Saturday night with a bunch of other like movies, and you don’t care how drunk you get in the process, this movie has the potential to be a lot of fun. There are a few nuggets of brilliance in this movie, and the bonus content does enhance the movie, which is why I’m giving The Darkest Hour 2.5 out of 5 Stars.