Dark Skies

discs lore

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Lore WWII has come to an end, and as the Allies work their way across Germany five orphaned children are forced out on a journey of their own. Raised by Hitler-loving parents, the kids, led by the teenage Hannalore (Saskia Rosendahl), find their beliefs a detriment as they struggle to survive an inhospitable landscape. Things grow even more complicated when a young Jewish man appears to come to their rescue. This beautifully scored and shot drama was Austria’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, and it’s a winner on all counts (except for the actual Oscars of course where it failed to get nominated). Rosendahl does strong work as a teen coming of age under incredible circumstances. Director Cate Shortland‘s film tells a personal story, but it also offers insight into humanity as a whole. [Blu-ray extras: Making of, deleted scenes, featurette]

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review dark skies

For better or worse the horror genre often seems to move in trends. From the bloodthirsty animal terrors and slasher films of the ’70s and ’80s to the J-horror remakes and (so-called) torture porn of the ’00s, genre filmmakers see a hit and immediately move to duplicate its success. Sometimes it works, but more often than not later films just feel like more of the same done worse. The most recent trend in horror has been haunted house movies thanks to hits like Paranormal Activity and Insidious. Their success ushered in a slew of imitators, but for every PA2 or The Woman in Black there have been a dozen direct to DVD duds. Standing out in a crowded field isn’t easy, but while the surest way to get noticed is by making a quality movie the second surest is to add something new to the mix. Sinister is a good example of a well made film that finds a fresh angle on the genre. By contrast, Dark Skies is simply an example of a film… that finds a singular fresh angle on the genre.

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Keri Russell became a pop cultural fixture in 1998, when she starred as the title character on Felicity, perhaps one of TV’s finest coming-of-age dramas. So much the pop cultural fixture, there was an uproar heard round the world when she got a simple haircut. Though Felicity ended in 2002, and since then, Russell has continued to produce meaningful acting work. 2013 alone is a huge year for her, as she is starring as an undercover KGB operative in the critically revered FX drama The Americans, starred in Jerusha Hess‘ directorial debut Austenland, which just premiered at Sundance, and is starring in Dark Skies, an alien invasion thriller that opens this Friday in theaters. In Dark Skies, directed by Scott Stuart, Russell plays Lacey Barrett, a woman who faces absolute hell as her family is targeted by aliens who control the forces of nature, including three separate flocks of birds that mysteriously fly into their home. Lacey and her husband Daniel (Josh Hamilton) fight with everything they have to protect their two children against the aliens, but are instead thought to be the abusive parties by their narrow-minded suburban community. Russell was kind enough to make time for an interview, and had a lot to say about Dark Skies, her interestingly unsympathetic character on The Americans, the delights of Sundance, and the final episodes of Felicity.

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Dark Skies

If horror films have taught us anything, it’s that flocks of birds are never a good thing – especially when said birds dive-bomb your home for no particular reason. That bad bird omen has been quite present in much of the marketing we’ve seen so far from Scott Stewart‘s Dark Skies, which looks to put a nice horror flick twist on the alien invasion trope. In Stewart’s upcoming film, Daniel and Lacey Barrett (Josh Hamilton and Keri Russell) find themselves targeted by a mysterious force, one that’s apparently watched their fair share of Hitchcock films, as home-targeting birds have already become a recognizable piece of the enticing terror of the film. This brand new UK quad poster for the film effectively telegraphs that fear by way of swarming birds and a house that certainly looks like it’s the only one at risk. Chilling. Dark Skies opens on February 22nd. [Empire]

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Dark Skies Trailer

Over the years we’ve seen so many alien home invasions in movies that we’ve grown to believe that visits from extraterrestrial beings aren’t necessarily a big deal. Maybe the alien who comes for a visit could even be a cute little friend who lives in your closet and develops an addiction to Reese’s Pieces! And heck, worst case scenario you get pulled out of your bed, anally probed up on the mothership, and then they drop you right back off like nothing happened, right? Maybe not. Scott Charles Stewart’s (Priest) new thriller Dark Skies asks what it would be like if the aliens stuck around for a while and tortured your family. If the new trailer for this film is to be believed, an extended occupation of your home by extraterrestrial forces would not just include objects in your kitchen being mysteriously stacked and dazzling lights glimmering off of your ceiling, but it would also bring an unwelcome plague of birds, brandings and blackouts. Oh my. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are starring here as a suburban couple who get tormented by the little green menace, and watching them deal with flocks of birds mysteriously slamming into their windows, strange marks being burnt into their kids’ skin, and their minds getting repeatedly taken over by some mysterious force can be some pretty harrowing stuff.

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This Week in DVD

The past few weeks have been incredibly light when it comes to DVD Tuesdays, but that streak of limited releases appears to have come to an end. Fourteen titles are covered below, and they run the gamut from fantastic to pure drivel with a lot in between. Titles out this week include Animal Kingdom, Dark Skies, Justified, Freakonomics, Death Race 2, and more. And yes, I was as surprised as you that Takers is worth a rental.

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