Aliens of the extra terrestrial variety have been invading Earth since as far back as the 1950s, at least they have been in the movies. This sub genre of Science-Fiction combined with the moving picture would seem like a match made in heaven, with films of this type proving so popular that year after year we are attacked by some new species. Originally inspired by Cold-War paranoia and the West’s fear of Communism, the alien invasion movie has gradually evolved instead to show the whole world uniting against a common enemy. However, the resulting popularity of these films means that while there is a reliable quantity of them, only a select number are of a reliable quality.
Unfortunately for The Darkest Hour, it lacks the quality to be considered good; in fact it’s a downright awful film. In it we follow Sean and Ben, played by Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella respectively. They are a pair of software developers who have travelled to Moscow to garner investments for party hot-spot finding social media application they have created. They arrive at the investment meeting only to discover that their Swedish business partner, Skyler (Joel Kinnaman) has taken over and shoe-horned them out of the deal. Understandably upset and annoyed they reluctantly leave and head for a nightclub where they can drown their sorrows and maybe attract some female attention.
While at the club Sean and Ben see Skyler, who arrogantly boasts about his underhanded deed. They then bump into fellow Americans, Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor) but before they can properly get to know one and other, the power cuts out. Outside the club people are spilling onto the streets to witness beautiful lights in the sky which descend like snowflakes to earth. As they touch down, each light goes out and nothing further can be seen. However, it soon becomes apparent that invisible, hostile visitors are invading, as they begin to wipe out the surrounding Earthlings. Sean, Ben, Natalie, Anne and Skyler take refuge in the nightclub store room and emerge five days later to find the streets of Moscow completely deserted. The group then attempt to find the American embassy and make contact with any other survivors, while also avoiding further attacks from the invaders.
As with most films of this type, a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is required. However, what ruins The Darkest Hour is that it expects you to suspend all sense of logic as well. Even before any aliens arrive we’re expected to believe that our two protagonists have created a piece of software and have either foolishly relinquished the source code to their business partner or just don’t realize that he cannot modify the software without it. Added to which, if these are software developers, wouldn’t it stand to reason that they could feasibly conduct a meeting across the internet? Surely having a European business partner would also negate the need for them to travel across the globe, to a meeting that he proves to be able to handle perfectly well on his own?
The film continues to insult the intelligence of the audience by having the protagonists be seemingly well versed in physics and electronics, based entirely on them being software developers. This is only the start of the overwhelming flaws this movie has to offer. Our heroes also pluck answers, about the aliens physiology and intentions, out of thin air! Its a level of exposition usually only reserved for four-year olds, who, because of the film’s 12A rating, are unable to see it anyway. The pinnacle of absurdity is reached when, as the group are travelling down river on a boat, it capsizes, they are all hurled into the water and swim to the bank. All except for one member, who inexplicably ends up a few miles down stream and on a bus! (I am not embellishing in the slightest, this is exactly what happens!)
As I said earlier in this review, this film is truly awful. The character development is non-existent and instead it relies on sterotypes and convention. Take Skyler, the arrogant European business associate, who is such an example of a one-dimensional, dislikable character that you are completely prepared for his inevitable death. The only plus points I can think of are, the location, because it makes a change to see aliens invade somewhere other than American soil (although Moscow soon becomes a non-descript city that could be anywhere in the world) and the effects, which while very good and relatively inventive are not outstanding in an age where digital effects are ten-a-penny. These are though, minor highs in a vast catalogue of lows. The Darkest Hour is the worst Alien Invasion film, and also possibly worst movie, I’ve ever seen.