The Darkest Hour Review
By Darrin Jones / January 2

Ingredients: If you liked the special effects of Alone in the Dark, the plot of Battle: Los Angeles, and the character/dialogue of absolutely any recent Scyfy Original movie, you will like this movie.

Two words for you folks: invisible-aliens. That's right, the biggest selling point of this movie is that the aliens are largely unseen during the majority of the film. Unfortunately, the acting of the main characters is pretty transparent itself. The film opens with two Americans, Sean (as played by Emile Hirsch) and Ben (as played by Max Minghella) mid-flight to Russia. Right off the bat their characters couldn't be more obvious. It's the usual Odd Couple friendship that always seems to pop up when writers don't want to spend to much time on character development. Sean is the straight-laced, easy-going, responsible type while Ben is the obnoxious, jerk that's a total slacker. Ben's obnoxiousness is only briefly interrupted when a mysterious "this is foreshadowing" incident occurs during the flight.

But they land safely in Moscow and that's probably the most interesting thing about this movie, it actually takes place in Moscow, Russia. You might be wondering since this movie is taking place in Russia, why did they throw in the young Americans at all? Well the answer's's because...U.S.A? Anyway, the two are apparently there for some business meeting of some sort but they are shot down by Skyler (Joel Kinnaman) in a pretty pointless scene but it does set up that Skyler is just a meany. Ben and Sean drown their sorrows in a trendy nightclub where they complete their circle of main character introductions with Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor). The dialogue between the group seems to bore the plot as well as the audience because the character development phase is quickly set aside as we jump right into a city wide blackout and glowing orbs of light drifting down to the streets immediately disappearing from sight once they've landed.

The crowd on the street can only stand around awestricken before a curious policeman has to ruin the whole thing by attempting to poke the transparent object before disintegrating into ash. That's right, we have shapeless transparent aliens leaving behind piles of ash instead of dead-bodies, clearly the filmmakers were a big fan of the 'less-is-more' style of movies. With the mystery gone, the crowd, including our five heroes, flee through the streets of Moscow trying to outrun the invisible balls of people-combusters. In America, you have character named 'Ash'; in Russia, we have character that is ash. As with most movies with an unseen or unseeable antagonist, we get treated to lots of 'monster vision' moments to let us know that there really is something there and it's just so super close to grabbing our heroes.

The five manage to become nearly the last people alive in Moscow and so the pace of the movie is set. Vacant, quiet streets without anything at all happening and nothing to see. The group lurks around the streets looking for supplies until they find out invisible aliens really hate it when dogs bark at them. Sean and Ben get separated from the others as they hide under a cop car until one of the aliens pass but luckily the five reunite just minutes afterwards, again, this will set the repeating pattern for this movie. Oh but we do find out an important weakness of the aliens, they set off electronic devices when they are near. With that dandy bit of knowledge, the audience is treated to a series of action-packed scenes of...standing around watching lights flicker and hiding. Honestly, I like well-paced, tense moments myself but when there's only five people in all of Moscow for us to watch and they are busy hiding from a gust of wind, the movie really starts to drag. Eventually, they do find other Russian citizens that seem way more competent then the American youth. And it's a good thing too, as the survivors can explain almost everything about the mysterious creatures that completely decimated Moscow in only THREE DAYS. By the way, did you know in America, you probe space; in Russia, space probe you.

Soon the movie switches gears from science-fiction survival-horror to a human-upraising against-alien-scourge. Its pretty standard from then on: macguffin weapons made from spare parts, impromptu commando appearance and a spectacular get away or spectacular almost get away. If you looking for something new and surprising, they pretty much ran out of ideas when they said "invisible aliens in Moscow."

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