Josh Hamilton as seen in DARK SKIES, a Sci-Fi/Thriller by Scott Stewart. Photo credit: Matthew Kennedy. Image courtesy The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.
- Matthew Kennedy
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Dark Skies (2013)
Opened: 02/22/2013 Wide
|AMC Deer Valley||02/22/2013 - 03/28/2013||35 days|
|Georgetown 14||02/22/2013 - 03/21/2013||28 days|
|AMC Loews Meth...||02/22/2013 - 03/21/2013||28 days|
|Showcase Cinem...||02/22/2013 - 03/14/2013||21 days|
|Arclight/Holly...||02/22/2013 - 03/07/2013||14 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Rated: PG-13 for violence, terror throughout, sexual material, drug content and language - all involving teens.
From the producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister comes Dark Skies: a supernatural thriller that follows a young family living in the suburbs.
As husband and wife Daniel and Lacey Barret witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barret family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacey take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family.
Dark Skies is a psychological thriller about a suburban family whose lives become a nightmare when a mysterious alien presence invades their home to prey upon them. In developing the concept, I wanted to take a microcosmic view of the typical alien invasion story. Instead of a large scale global event that we usually see in films, Dark Skies centers around only one family and the neighborhood in which they live.
My favorite scary movies are the ones that operate mostly in the realm of the psychological, where the boogeyman gives voice to everyday fears. In the case of Dark Skies, the everyday fears start out as common suburban anxieties. Will I be able to provide for my family? Will I lose my home? Am I raising my children right? Then as the aliens begin to make their presence felt, these same everyday anxieties become nightmarishly severe for our characters. In this regard, the aliens are less a personified antagonist than a force of nature that creates chaos in our lives.
The inspiration for Dark Skies came from a number of places. I had been thinking about parents that became villains in the public consciousness because they were suspected of committing unprovable crimes against their children, such as Jon Benet Ramsey's parents and Casey Anthony. In most cases, the parents' claims of innocence are met with justified skepticism by the public. That got me wondering, "What if an otherworldly force invaded your home to prey upon your children and no one believed you?" The public skepticism would be understandably even greater toward such parents because the reason would be so unbelievable. But what if the parents were telling the truth? That seemed like a compelling scenario from which to develop a scary story.
For the neighborhood setting, I drew inspiration from my childhood growing up in the suburbs of Northern California in the late 70's and 80's. To me, it seemed like a safe little world behind a veil of protection. But every once in awhile, some tragedy would happen in the neighborhood, a car accident, a domestic dispute, a teen suicide, that would reveal how illusory that veil really was. I wanted to imbue the film with a similar sense of unease.
VISUALIZING THE WORLD OF "DARK SKIES"
Visually I wanted the film to look and feel grounded and realistic. I had made two highly stylized films previously and for Dark Skies I eschewed that kind of stylization in favor of character focused realism and a back to basics storytelling approach. I thought if audiences saw the Barretts as real and relatable, then they would be much more scared when bad things started happening to them. To help me achieve this, I brought David Boyd aboard as my cinematographer. David is well regarded for having shot the pilots for the acclaimed TV shows Friday Night Lights, Deadwood and The Walking Dead. David is a very actor friendly cameraman who possesses a gift for capturing the poetry and details of everyday life. To prepare for the film, we drew inspiration from the photography of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Gregory Crewdson.
Beyond the cinematography, my desire to keep the film realistic and grounded extended into every aspect of the production, especially the production design. We chose to shoot entirely in real locations because I wanted the restrictions real locations imposed to influence the overall aesthetic of the film. This also helped the actors more fully inhabit the lives of their characters, as everything around them was real.
In keeping with the concept that the aliens in the film known as the Greys are more of a force of nature than a physical antagonist, I designed them to be rarely seen and when we do, it's always in silhouette. That required us to adhere to a photographic rule that there was always a strong backlight in the room whenever we were to see them, such as a table lamp or a TV that would justify their silhouette. This approach also helped me play into the truism of scary movies that it's always what you don't see that's scariest.
CASTING THE BARRETTS
It's commonly said by directors that casting a film is between fifty and ninety percent of the job. Nothing could be truer in the case of Dark Skies. In keeping with the style of the rest of the film, it was paramount that the family feel real, relatable and appealing but not movie perfect. That meant finding exactly the right actors.
The quest for the perfect cast started with the Lacy character and I was fortunate that my first choice, Keri Russell, responded to the script and wanted to do it. I needed audiences to believe and empathize with Lacy, so they would be more invested in her and her family's journey. Keri was able to bring those qualities to the screen with her rare mixture of beauty, intelligence, relatability and warmth.
For the role of Daniel Barrett I was looking for someone who could portray a suburban father who finds himself losing control of the very ordered life he tried to construct. This was not the role for an action star. When Daniel eventually buys a gun to protect his family, I needed an actor who looked uncomfortable holding it. I found that actor in Josh Hamilton. With his depth of experience starring in films, TV and on Broadway, Josh was able to capture that delicate balance of being the last of the family members to "believe" what is happening without losing his warmth and likeability.
I was very fortunate that thirteen-year-old Dakota Goya was available and excited to play Jesse Barrett. After starring opposite Hugh Jackman in Real Steal, Dakota has been in demand and for good reason. He possesses a natural ability and big screen presence that is compelling and real. In many ways, the film rests on his shoulders and he's able to carry it with ease.
The casting of six-year-old Kadan Rockett as Sam Barrett came after an extensive search by my casting director, Rick Montgomery. We saw hundreds of auditions by kids from all over the country before we found Kadan. I was determined not to cast a "movie kid", and with Kadan, we found a child actor possessing uncanny poise and intelligence for his age without any of the cynical affectation.