Thursday, May 17, 2012
Darkest Hour (2011)
This odd ball science fiction/horror film was dumped into theaters at Christmas where it did okay I suppose, but got swamped by most of the bigger winter releases. For my money it kind of deserved better than it got.
The plot of the film has several friends going to Moscow on business and vacation. While out partying they notice weird glowing things that begin drifting down from the sky. These weird glowing things then disappear. However they aren’t gone, but invisible and they begin disintegrating all the living things in their way. The friends flee and seek to find a way home and a way to stop the monsters.
This is an oddly constructed film that seems to have been cobbled together from a couple of different scripts. Its not fatal to the film but it makes for a bumpy ride that makes what could have been and should have been a truly great film just an okay one with a great middle.
The opening sequence with the friends going to Moscow and getting into trouble, of a sort, isn’t particularly good. It’s the sort of crappy set up that you’ve seen a couple of dozen times before. It’s the sort of thing that’s killed way too many other films. It’s so poor I considered leaving, but I didn’t, and I’m glad I stayed.
To me once the aliens show up the film is a good take on the well worn story of a group of people trying to deal with an alien invasion. Here the aliens are invisible, which was probably done for budgetary reasons, but it also allows for some nice twists (like the aliens giving off electric charges and how they see things). This section of the friends trying to survive and fight the aliens hits all of the right notes.
Unfortunately despite picking up in the second part of the film it does hit a couple of slightly sour notes.
First the film doesn’t explain a great deal, even though it feels like it should. I know I hate when I film explains too much, but here the film kind of explains very little, it just moves. The trouble comes from the fact that the first section of the film is so talky compared to the center section the lack of exposition seems out of place.
The film also suffers because our heroes always seem to run into other people at exactly precisely the right moment. How will they get out of this? Bring in someone new. It’s not terrible, especially considering some of these new characters are pretty cool, but it makes things feel slightly contrived. They are minor quibbles but annoying.
After a more or less solid middle section the film kind of loses itself in the final couple of minutes. The problem is that the film rushes to an ending that seeks to tie up too many things and answer too many questions, what is the fate of our heroes? Is there any place safe? What do the aliens want? Its nice to have things answered, but did they all have to come in the final ten or fifteen minutes?
When the film ended I was disappointed. There was so much good in it that I thought it should be better. I went home feeling kind of bummed.
Then later on and into the next day I found my opinion changing. I really liked much of the film. I really thought that there is some really good stuff mixed with a few clunky bits. I went from feeling that it was an interesting misfire that I’d forget with the next film, to thinking that I really need to add this to the week of just miss horror films.
No it’s not a great film. No it’s not a wholly satisfying film, but there is enough choice material in this film to make it worth seeing on Netflix or on cable.