• Film reviews

    #609 – Darkest Hour (2009)

    The Darkest Hour (2011)

    Film review #609

    Director: Chris Gorak

    SYNOPSIS: Two American entrepreneurs travel to Moscow for a business deal. When they find that their business partner has sold them out, they go to a bar to drown their sorrows, meeting two other American tourists there as well. While there, an alien invasion gets underway and everyone flees as the aliens hunt them down. Managing to hide underground for a few days, the survivors emerge and try to make their way through Moscow, all the while avoiding the aliens that are roaming the city…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: The Darkest Hour is a 2011 sci-fi alien invasion film. In the opening, we see two American entrepreneurs, Sean and Ben, travelling to Moscow for a business deal. When they arrive, they find their business partner, Skyler, has already sold them out and cut them out of the deal. Going to a bar, they meet two American women who are visiting Moscow on holiday. Their party is cut short though, when an alien invasion gets underway, and they begin disintegrating humans. The four Americans, along with Skyler (who just happens to be at the bar too), manage to hide underground, and after a few days, emerge to try and get to the American embassy. To do so, they must navigate the deserted streets of Moscow…well, deserted apart from the invisible aliens prowling the streets anyway…

    The film is very much a typical alien invasion/survival film, with a group of ‘ordinary’ people just trying to survive the post-invasion world. The only real unique thing about the film is that it’s set in Moscow, rather than a more typical U.S. setting, but this doesn’t really offer anything interesting for the plot. We get plenty of shots of an abandoned Moscow, but none of the film’s action scenes take place there, which is a missed opportunity. As the group moves through the city, they meet other people and learn a bit more about the invasion, doing all the typical beats and plot points you would expect. The film does keep you on your toes with who is going to live or die as well, always leaving itself open to a sharp turn.

    The characters are perhaps the big thing that really drag this film down. From the start, the characters come across as unlikable. Sean and Ben are laddish techbros whose banter is insufferable. Natalie and Anna, the two female leads, aren’t much better. Their turn-around into survivors is a bit of a leap and they almost feel like completely different people. Ben particularly is someone who does not seem like the heroic leader he becomes at the start. The supporting cast fulfil their roles, but that’s about it. There’s no real attempt to develop the character’s personalities, back stories etc. and it is unbelievably dull watching them wander around aimlessly. On top of all this, the acting is so flat and bland that means it is impossible to feel anything but disdain towards these characters.

    The aliens themselves are invisible, which conveniently means we never get to see them, or other characters interact with them. The brief glimpses we do get of them show some very average looking CG lacking spectacle or detail. The motives of the aliens is also left very much unexplored, other than they are on Earth seemingly to strip it of minerals. This isn’t so much of a problem, because you don’t expect survivors to try and work out motivations when they’re trying to survive, but the film needed something for the viewer to get into. As it stands though, The Darkest Hour is a drab and bland venture that, despite the more unique setting, fails to grab viewers attention thanks to it’s one-dimensional characters, flat acting, and a general lack of anything interesting happening on screen.