The Darkest Hour is one of the latest in a long line of alien invasion/end of the world movies, but tries to do something more than many of the other films in this genre tend to do. Shifting the focus of the story away from America to Moscow is a refreshing change, giving the audience a ravaged Russia, rather than the typically used New York or Los Angeles.
The alien invaders in The Darkest Hour are also something a little different. It would have been easy for the film makers to create yet another reptilian alien or space robot from CGI, but instead choose to create an adversary that spends most of the film unseen.
It is this element of an unseen foe that I feel the film does itself a disservice. Whilst the survivors of the initial assault use the static given off by the aliens as an early warning system of their presence, illuminating bulbs and setting of mobile telephones, the potential for tense, creepy scenes feel oddly wasted. The directors’ choice of action over suspense feels like an odd one, and the aliens’ uniqueness quickly looses its impact.
Following a group of survivors through the deserted streets of Moscow it quickly becomes a guessing game of what order the characters die in, and thanks to some very two dimensional characterisation it becomes easy to get it right.
The latter half of the film changes pace and switches from survivors on the run into humanity fighting back against impossible odds. I can’t help but feel that this happens too quickly to be credible, especially as the answer for survival comes from a crazy inventor who appears to have already been prepared for the surprise invasion of earth. Along with an unconvincing romance subplot this creates an ending that feels overly rushed, and one that stick too close to Hollywood conventions to be considered original.
Despite this The Darkest Hour is an enjoyable enough film with an interesting alien menace and stunning death effects when the aliens attack. With a running time of little over an hour and a half the film also doesn’t outstay its welcome. So if you’re looking for a sci-fi film that doesn’t stray too far from convention, but has something new and interesting, The Darkest Hour is well worth a viewing.