Film review: THE DARKEST HOUR from Built for Speed

You know the drill with sci/fi horror these days: a disparate group of pretty young adults are forced to stop whining and unite to battle a seemingly indestructible alien menace. You can clothe it in military fetishism ala Battle: Los Angeles or Inner city housing estate culture as in Attack the Block but it’s still the same film. The Darkest Hour follows all the rules astutely although it has the novelty of being set in Moscow.
Emile Hirsch, who appears to be turning into Jack Black, plays a cheeky party boy who’s in Moscow to flog a travel website with his mate played by Max Minghella. Having hooked up with two attractive young women, ubiquitous Aussie Rachel Taylor and American Anne Hathaway look-a-like Olivia Thirlby he thinks he’s in for a night of partying and debauchery. He should know by now that as soon as there is a possibility of sex, it’s time for a monster attack. The unwelcome invaders are luminous blobs that descend from the sky and become invisible on landing (the old invisible creature saves on the effects budget) and anyone stupid enough to go near them is immediately vapourised.
As our band of young trendoids flee for their lives, darting about the city and hiding out in abandoned buildings, the film makes very good use of a post-apocalyptic looking Moscow. There’s a genuine sense of an entire city having been turned into a spooky ghost town by the invisible menaces.
Unfortunately the film’s inspired art direction isn’t matched by the script. The plot is completely predictable while the dialogue contains enough cheesy lines to seriously threaten cholesterol levels. The scriptwriters need to go back and look at films like The Day the Earth Caught Fire for intelligent sci fi dialogue if not clever titles.
There’s also the unfortunate problem that the humans are so vacuous and irritating that many in the audience will be rooting for the monsters.
The Darkest Hour is sufficiently well made and fast paced that the script and character issues aren’t too much of a problem but don’t expect a sci fi masterpiece.

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