Jan 18 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
The Darkest Hour
THE Darkest Hour is a sci-fi / horror that follows a group of youths, including Sean (Emile Hirsch), Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor), based in Moscow during an alien invasion.
This alien race are attacking the planet via its power supply and determined to destroy everyone in their path.
Every once in a while you are left sitting in the cinema wondering ‘what have I done to deserve this.’ The Darkest Hour fell into that category for me.
It will be quicker to get the good points out of the way first so let’s start there.
The Moscow setting is different from the usual sights and sounds of New York or Los Angeles getting a battering from extra terrestrials or the elements.
Aliens being presented as streams of electric light instead of all too familiar rip-offs and combinations of the Alien and Predator beasties is another welcome change and there are some cool visuals of a fallen bridge and plane (budgetary constraints mean we don’t see how they were destroyed).
And, erm... that’s it for the positives. Oh no, wait, the ending amps up the action slightly with a decent waterside showdown.
Right, now for the negatives. Goodness, where do I begin?
First, it lazily lifts elements from other sci-fi / horror material.
The War of the Worlds parallels are easy to make... let’s face it, every alien invasion movie faces that accusation.
But humans turning to dust? The Cruise-starring War of the Worlds remake and the latest Transformers film already played that card.
A deserted city? 28 Days Later anyone. The aliens’ light-based point-of-view shots? A low-fi version of the Predator’s vision.
Director Chris Gorak helmed the excellent 2006 terrorist attack thriller Right at Your Door and it’s a pity he didn’t follow the same low-scale, character-driven template here.
Debut writers John Spaihts and M.T. Ahern are joined by action genre scribe Leslie Bohem (Dante’s Peak, Daylight) on what is a pretty woeful script.
Some of the dialogue ‘gems’ on offer include one character exclaiming horribly “it killed a dog”, when the whole of Moscow and its residents are in ruins, and “I’m trying to keep my freak-out on the inside.”
We get about eight minutes of poor characterisation to start the film, mainly based around Hirsch and Max Minghella’s (Ben) website creators who are so dull they’d have struggled to fit into the background in The Social Network (especially ironic for Minghella who starred in that movie).
The consequence of such limited characterisation is that I couldn’t have cared any less who lived or died.
Suspension of disbelief is inevitable in an alien invasion flick but some of the stuff here is truly head-slapping.
A zany oddball manages to create a weapon to counter the aliens in his dingy flat and a lame 10 second speech from Sean is enough to change the minds of a group of military types he’s just met into helping their cause.
I could go on and on (the acting’s lame too) but I feel like I’m kicking a man when he’s down.
If an alien invasion movie is your type of thing, you’d be better off sticking on the DVD of the 1953 War of the Worlds or Independence Day than sitting through the (unintentional) horror of The Darkest Hour.
Rating - 4 out of 10.