All of the Horror Movies on Netflix #3: Dark Skies
Netflix Summary: A couple has trouble convincing friends and neighbors than an alien is entering their house each night to terrorize their children.
Do people watch porn with their friends?
I ask this because in the 2013 movie Dark Skies, this is a reoccurring element of young teen Jesse’s story. The porn he watches seems to be vintage, but the only thing the audience really sees said porn is a really awkward boob grab. While Jesse watches, his face looks pained, but later on, he grabs a girl’s boob in the same way. What does this mean? Is this social commentary?
Dark Skies centers on the Barrett family, a suburban family who has a long picnic table where they eat dinner that ol’ Daniel cooked up on the grill, apron and all, with their neighbors in the backyard. Their house is huge, they are all white, and Lacy and Daniel talk to each other like hostile witnesses.
It is established early on that Daniel Barrett, the patriarch, does not like his son’s friend. He calls teenager and best friend of his son Kevin Ratner by the moniker “Ratface,” a name that he defends as “not rude” but “descriptive.”
At night, Jesse reads scary stories to his younger brother Sammy over walkie talkies, which I assume is a way of being discreet, but… Why don’t they just… Hang out? I assume that they’re only, like, one room away. It’s be easier to talk quietly, and there wouldn’t be the crackling of a walkie talkie signaling back and forth for their mom to clearly hear.
A few hours later, Lacy Barrett wakes up, groggy, and heads downstairs. Their fridge is open, with food hanging out of it and onto the floor. In the morning, Lacy tells Daniel that only the vegetables were eaten, and he says, “Probably a rabbit.”
Daniel is the worst. Daniel is a lesson in how to gaslight your wife.
Lacy is a real estate agent, and Daniel is currently seeking employment. He attempts a few job interviews and is given a hard pass. A mortgage statement comes in the mail, which Daniel is unable to pay. He does not communicate this to his wife, who apparently works but has no idea what their financial situation is. Back in my own living room, my husband Justin leans in and asks me, “Do you think the aliens help him get out of debt?” I think he's joking with me, but honestly that's a movie I would be really willing to watch / a thing I wish would happen to me.
Another night, another rabbit: This time, the rabbit has opened up the pantry and stacked the cans around the kitchen so that they display geometric symbols all over the ceiling. Daniel agrees that maybe it’s not an animal, and when they call the police, the policeman suggests it’s probably one of the kids doing it. He does not investigate any further.
In the advertisements for the commercials, I specifically remember Sammy saying, “I had a bad dream,” but nothing could prepare me for how fucking weird he looks when he says it, like a small, troubled frog. He shows his mom pictures of who he thinks has been messing with their kitchen, referred to as “The Sandman.”
Lacy is a realtor, and while she’s showing a family around a very 70s house, their daughter has an asthma attack. Lacy centers the attention back to her by saying her kid, Jesse, was sick all of the time, too. It’s a competition, so.
Meanwhile, Daniel is unable to pay for anything but is keeping it from his family because of the patriarchy and outdated gender roles. They fight so loud that their kids can hear them. They walkie talkie about it, and Sammy asks if their dad is going to leave. :<
That night, their home alarm goes off, and when they talk to the security people, they tell them nothing is wrong, except, oh, all of the alarms went off at the same time in a cacophony of shrill beeping. Upon further investigation, they find all of their family pictures are GONE, like they’ve been wiped from both existence and their Kohl’s frames.
Daniel and Lacy argue about their finances, and when Lacy requests their family starts going to therapy, Daniel is pissed about it being too big of an expense. While arguing about not being able to afford all of their expenses, they are inside of a big house. Do you know if big houses sell for a lot of money?
Deciding to do just one thing to make him a good father, Daniel takes Sammy to soccer, where Sammy pees himself and stares off into the distance before he starts screaming. Huh!
Back at home, Lacy decides if Daniel won’t pay for therapy, she’ll just tear through all of their kids’ shit. While she’s hard at work, one million birds suddenly fly into the windows. The CDC comes to investigate bird gate, and all of their neighbors stand around like, “Oh, I bet Daniel and Lacy made the birds come to their house because they don’t belong in our blessed neighborhood.”
That night, Lacy hears Sam talking to someone, and she walks into his room to see a straight-up alien. Like, skinny, grey, Lisa-Frank-looking mother fucker. Lacy tells her husband she saw “someone” in Sam’s room, and he’s like, “Sounds fake :)” before he calls her “crazy.”
Then there’s the previously mentioned scene where Jesse uses porn to hook up with his friend, blah blah, okay. Because of his wife's constant n-a-g-g-i-n-g, Daniel installs a personal security system that watches everyone while they sleep. There is a lot of suspenseful clicking and zooming in and slowing down, but Daniel remains unconvinced.
The next day, Lacy returns to the 70s house (where Jesse recently felt a girl up). Feeling the financial strain of being married to a husband who buys a full security system but still doesn't want to shell out for therapy, talks up the house to a young couple in a way I would call “immoral.” Like, "I don't have to tell you that mold is in right now" and "A caved-in roof shows fortitude," etc. While she’s lying to them, she has a fit and can’t talk, then bashes her head into the sliding doors. This is what happens to liars.
Sometime later, Lacy wakes up with bruises all over herself and is like, “Hmm, probably a dream.” The CDC calls her and says, “The thing about the dead birds is that they’re all dead and we’re just, like, we don’t know what’s up with that.” Lacy, a sleuth, googles “mass bird deaths” and is taken to conspiracy theory sites with familiar SIGHTS, such as grey aliens (well, well, well) and weird symbols on walls (like the rabbit(s?) made).
During her rapid spiral from suburban mom to conspiracy theorist, Daniel comes home with a new job, and is like, “Baby!!! I got a job!!!” He talks right at Lacy’s swollen and bruised face but says nothing like, “Hey, what happened to your face?”
After they bone (I assume), Lacy wakes up and finds Daniel standing outside, his mouth open in terror. Lacy’s like “Do you… Want to come inside?” and then blood squirts out of his nose and she panics. After she manages to get him conscious and inside, Lacy then tells him about her freakout at the 70s house and he’s like, “That’s scary but, who knows!! Can’t be explained!!!”
While Lacy does research, she prints out websites’ landing pages in full color. Surely, someone on the set of Dark Skies has at some point in time printed off something from their computer before this? Couldn't they just ask a PA? Worse yet, why is Lacy shelling out money for colored ink when she can’t even take her kids to therapy?
No amount of pages printed in full color with the word ALIENS can make Daniel believe that his family is experiencing something extraterrestrial. Determined, Lacy shows him the proof: a drawing of stick figures she found on the internet with one that vaguely resembles an alien. Daniel, unwilling to believe that Sammy came up with concept of stick figures with his own brain, says the kid must have seen a picture of stick figures online and copied it. Lacy is like, NO, HE GOT THEM FROM ALIENS, and Daniel is like, NO, HE COPIED THEM FROM THE INTERNET.
I just do not have it in me to keep explaining the banal arguments that Lacy and Daniel have over and over again. They fight more. Their kids act weird more. No one gets therapy, but their behavior leads neighbors and doctors to believe that their kids are being abused. The only thing that makes Daniel finally listen to his wife is when he’s pacing through the surveillance footage and finds an alien standing in Sammy’s room. When he tells his wife, he’s like, “Yeah, idk, I had this crazy idea that maybe aliens are real. I guess I’ve always known and you’re still a dumb loser. This was all my idea.”
So they go to see an alien expert by the name of J Jonah Jameson.
J.K. Simmons looks good in rolled up sleeves with an old man hat. Conspiracy theory Simmons is top tier Simmons, especially with his yellow-tinted glasses and surly demeanor. He lives in a house that looks a lot like Burn You Faves co-creator Megan Kirby’s house: messy with a lot of books, some cats, located in the city, posters of aliens taped to the walls. He explains aliens to the couple. Daniel asks, “How do you known all this?” as if everything in this dude’s fucking house doesn’t indicate that he’s obsessed with aliens and has been spending all of his time researching them.
He tells them that the aliens are getting ready to take someone, and Daniel says it’s his youngest son, Sammy, because Sammy has a little frog face and talks so strangely he's practically an alien already.
Daniel tells his wife they can’t go to the police because they’ll think they’re crazy, so instead, they buy guns and an attack dog and then cover their house in wooden planks. While they’re boarding up their house, Sammy says, “Maybe if I just gave him my eyes, he would leave us alone.
Get. Him. To. Therapy.
Suddenly, the aliens start flashing lights outside (or whatever), and Daniel is like, “OKAY EVERYONE, SCATTER!!!”
Downstairs, all of the screws on their boarded-up windows and doors pop out because of the alien powers, which are apparently limitless. Pop! Those! Screws! Daniel yells “LEAVE US ALONE!” and then starts shooting outside. Thank god he didn’t go to the cops, or people would have thought he was crazy. They run into the bedroom and the National Anthem is playing as a bunch of the skinny aliens materialize into their bedroom. The world goes black and quiet.
Jesse awakes in this dreamlike hallucination where his house slowly becomes the 70s house from earlier. He walks into the kitchen and sees his mom dead and his dad ready to kill himself (and then he kills himself). He then sees his dumbass brother giggling and running and then hallucinates about porn because he’s been kidnapped by aliens and I guess that’s what they’re concerned about. Jesse continues to follow his spooky brother around the house, and then finds Sammy curled up on the plush, 70s carpet. He moves towards him hesitantly, and when he touches Sammy, Sammy turns into an alien. Blast off!!!!
Some time has passed, and JK Simmons finds an article in the paper about Jesse going missing. He cuts out his pic and hangs it on his wall of missing children. Meanwhile, Daniel and Lacy have finally downsized as the police think that they killed their kid. I mean? Right? Why wouldn’t they?
Lacy finds old pictures that their kid drew, because they are hoarders who need to Marie Kondo their lives. They do flashback footage to make sure we understand why Jesse got taken (Jesus), and then Jesse uses the walkie talkie to call Sammy from space. “Hey, Sammy, I’m in space,” he says (he doesn’t).
Rating: One-half out of Five Spooky Pumpkins
This movie isn’t even funny-bad, it’s just painfully bad. One-half spooky pumpkin for J.K. Simmons, and THAT’S IT.