The Darkest Hour
Facts and Figures
Run time: 89 mins
In Theaters: Sunday 25th December 2011
Box Office USA: $21.4M
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment
Production compaines: Regency Enterprises, Bazelevs Production, The Jacobson Company, New Regency Pictures, Summit Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 12%
Fresh: 7 Rotten: 50
IMDB: 4.9 / 10
The Darkest Hour Review
Sean (Hirsch) has accompanied his pal Ben (Minghella) to Moscow for a work pitch that immediately goes awry. Drowning their sorrows in a hip bar, they meet hot tourists Natalie and Anne (Thirlby and Taylor). But a citywide blackout signals the arrival of alien creatures that aren't much more than pulses of light and energy. And they're intent on obliterating humans. So these four young people start an odyssey of survival, meeting a variety of colourful characters along the way.
The premise is actually rather catchy, as is the way the central characters are foreigners way out of their comfort zones. But the screenplay never bothers to develop anyone beyond one or two personality traits, while their interaction feels oddly simplistic. As a result, we only get a sense of peril because the filmmakers tell us it's there; we never feel any fear for these people, because we can't really care if they survive or not.
That said, there is some nicely black humour woven throughout the script, cleverly echoing the Russian culture in the snappy dialog and sharp interaction. Scenes in which the foreigners and locals work through their differences to figure out a way forward are the most interesting moments in the story. They're far more engaging that the contrived but cool-looking mumbo jumbo about how to fight these electrical aliens.
The lack of a more personal connection is odd for director Gorak, whose Right At Your Door did the opposite: held us relentlessly in its grip without any big effects. This on the other hand is packed with eye-catching visual trickery, although the 3D is never used at all. And before Moscow is decimated, the film feels like a marketing tool for under 30s to visit a fabulous new clubbing destination, with its sexy boys and girls, lively bars and clubs, and a general disdain for the law.