“I’m trying to keep my freak-out on the inside!” —Sean (Emile Hirsch), as he and his pals are attacked by invisible aliens (!).
Anyone who has read even a sample of my reviews on contemporary cinema knows that modern movies usually make me roll my eyes towards the heavens and shout “Why, oh, why?” But then, every once in a while, somebody makes a stupid B-movie that appeals to that side of me that truly adores low-budget films. And, while The Darkest Hour certainly isn’t a great achievement by any means — in fact, calling it an “achievement” is really kind of pushing the envelope — the 2011 science fiction thriller shot in Russia is actually sort of fun to watch.
The aliens have landed, kids. They’re here to slaughter all of mankind by disintegrating us out of existence. And they’re invisible. Yes, that’s right: It’s the attack of the imperceptible intruders — a cost-saving technique that gives the film an enjoyable 1950s drive-in movie feel to it. In a way, the PG-13 title almost seems to have been crafted solely from several sci-fi classics (as well as duds) such as Invisible Invaders (duh) and The War of the Worlds. The similarities are shocking: bad acting, outrageously dumb dialogue, mostly unknown performers (including a lead — one Emile Hirsch — who looks like a cross between Jack Black, Leonardo DiCaprio and Nathan Fillion), hokey weaponry (a homemade microwave gun), and cheesy special effects, too.
Actually, the special effects aren’t that bad. For the most part, the FX are limited to lights and people being broken up into fragments (in a surprisingly non-bloody way). As soon as the filmmakers decide to show the “faces” of the aliens, however, the CGI looks like just that: CGI. But, by then, you’ve made up your mind as to whether or not you like The Darkest Hour for what it is either way — so a few inferior, fleeting computer-bred extraterrestrial mugs won’t make a difference. And why? Because it’s a B-movie, pure and simple. Its one and only objective is to make a direct run from beginning to end and hopefully entertain a few people in the process.
At least, that’s the way I see it.
Summit Entertainment brings us this theatrical sinker (the film wasn’t even screened for critics when it came out) in a beautiful high-def transfer that boasts both a super picture and a lively DTS-HD Master Audio lossless 5.1 soundtrack that accommodates the main feature quite well. If you like a solid image and a lot of good boom-boom sounds, but have little to no desire to see a “thinking” film, this one’s your baby — and there are a couple of special features (a featurette, short film, deleted scenes, and an audio commentary) that will finish off the evening’s entertainment admirably. Providing you like B-movies in the first place, that is.