The Darkest Hour stars the rather wooden Emile Hirsh as software developer Sean, who happens to be in Moscow for work when some rather odd aliens launch an all out attack on the city. Sean soon finds himself fighting for survival alongside his friend Ben (Max Minghella) and two girls they meet at a bar courtesy of their social networking software (one of whom is played by Australia actress Rachael Taylor).
The aliens in this film are mostly invisible beings, which are made out of energy. They kill by shooting energy out that then pulverises people instantly, turning them into ash. The problem with these odd aliens isn’t so much that we can’t see them, but that they don’t seem to follow any real rules or pseudo-science about what they can and can’t do. It makes very little sense that they can see energy through certain substances and not others. If the aliens don’t seem unconvincing in the beginning, they do as the film progresses and we get a better look at them. They look as scary as a child’s scribble of what an alien might be. It’s almost laughable.
All of the characters in this film are either boring and annoying and/or some sort of stereotype. The guys are whiny and are the protectors and heroes, while the girls are mostly pathetic creatures who need the boy’s help and assistance at every step. Apparently females are unable to have strong opinions which they act upon. It is almost impossible to muster any feelings for the outcome of these character’s struggle for survival. While the characters are poorly written, the actors don’t do much with the little that they are given. Rachael Taylor will make you cringe with every awkwardly delivered line in her broad Australian accent.
The 3D in this film is for the most part pointless. There are a few interesting visual moments when the aliens first arrive, but otherwise it’s completely perfunctory. Sadly, the fact this is in 3D may be the only reason much of the younger audience will want to see it.
Using Moscow as the setting is the one redeeming and original part of this film. After seeing New York invaded at least two dozen times, it’s really interesting to see another world city as the setting. Moscow works well. It’s a historic city with plenty of interesting buildings (both new and old) for the characters to run and hide in. Side note: the film also wants you to know they have plenty of McDonalds in Moscow.
Overall The Darkest Hour is a mess. The Aliens don’t make sense, the characters are ridiculous, and you won’t care how the story ends. Thankfully at only 89 minutes long, you don’t need to wait that long.
Director: Chris Gorak
Writer(s): John Spaihts
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Rachael Taylor
Runtime: 89 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: January 19th 2012; New Zealand: January 12th 2012
(Note: this review was originally posted on my tumblr)