Amusing forays into J.K. Simmons as a conspiracy theorist and gaping family members twitching towards the sky flavor a surprisingly disturbing (given the end) and surprisingly watchable film that exhausts its concept and surrenders to the twist-ending that makes little sense.
As Charles Fort said: "The Earth is a farm. We are someone else's property". I like that it wasn't overly explicit but more ominous, so the aliens aren't just a physical menace but they also embody the idea of a higher power playing with our karma and punishing the human race for the sins we keep in our collective memory. I like 'The Box' better in that regard, though.
I will say up front that the fifth star was dropped because of the ending to "Dark Skies". Other than that, there are few alien-related films that actually have managed to keep me on the edge of my seat without bursting out in laughter. There was actual content here, with a detailed story as to why and how these aliens are invading Earth. Keri Russell also provides a surprisingly good performance here. See it once.
There isn't a single thing done in this movie that an alien or ghost movie before it hasn't done.
J.K. Simmons plays an alien expert in this movie. He actually explains the very basic details of aliens to the main characters, and their reaction is "Wow, I didn't know about any of this."
EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT ALL OF THIS ALREADY. A whole shitload of better movies have explained it all before.
Great directors have proven sufficiently that it does not take much to inflict horror & fear on the innocent viewer. However Stewart doesn't pull any string despite aliens depicted as something more than a physical presence with dark intentions, a collection of horrific postures & an interesting initial premise. Here we often don't seem to know what is going on or why & the end is a bland horrible Lynch-esque puzzle.
Alien stories just don't scare me like ghost stories do. In this case, I just call them suspense-thrillers, and never 'horror'. That's just how my brain works. That being said, the suspense factor is good, the story was not overly done, and the characters were actually thinking like real people. I still think horror and suspense-thrillers are the hardest films to perfect, and "Dark Skies" had fairly done a good job.