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The Darkest Hour

The Darkest Hour

Released 13 January 2012
Director Chris Gorak

Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman, Veronika Ozerova
Writer(s) Jon Spaihts

Timur Bekmambetov, Tom Jacobson
Origin United States, Russia
Running Time 89 minutes
Genre Action, horror, sci-fi
Rating 15A


There is one thing I’ll say for The Darkest Hour; the design of its alien invaders is quite clever from a production point of view. Rather than having to deal with dodgy CGI or the pitfalls of designing an original alien race, The Darkest Hour has created an adversary that is (for the most part) invisible, save for the lightning-like tendrils they use to vaporise their prey. This does mean the audience is never distracted by the sight of an extra in a badly fitting rubber mask but let’s face it, as screen aliens go, these glorified fairy lights are pretty lame.

The invasion begins when lights fall from the sky over Moscow. Two pairs of globe-trotting friends - Sean and Ben (Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella) and Natalie and Ann (Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor), had met up for a night out at a city club but it’s cut short when Earth comes under attack. Narrowly avoiding being killed, they hide out in the club basement for days. When they emerge, the city streets are dusty and deserted. Joined by the untrustworthy Skyler (Joel Kinnaman), the group begin to look for survivors in the destroyed city while avoiding the electrically charged aliens.

There is little about The Darkest Hour that is offensively bad (save some gaping plot-holes), but there is also nothing memorable about any of it. The lack of a good enemy is a huge problem - there is no tension in the close encounters. And as the alien characters fall flat, so do the human ones. The central group are all one-dimensional and uninvolving. Though credit where credit’s due, at least the script has a refreshingly indifferent attitude to their mortality. It’s just a shame there are some good actors here with very little to work with. Similarly, director Chris Gorak (best known as an art director but showed promise with the unusual Right At Your Door in 2006) actually has quite a good eye and the deserted Russian streets are well photographed. Unfortunately, there’s just no fighting back against such a lacklustre concept.

Definitely not for the hardened sci-fi fan, The Darkest Hour (in pointless 3D) could only possibly enthral a newcomer to the genre.

- Linda O’Brien