Gone are the days when aliens were content with touching little boys with their glowing finger or sitting in a basket and having a little boy ride them around on a bicycle; now all they seem to want to do is colonise the earth and abuse its resources – clearly ignoring or not caring about the fact that we were here first and already doing a good enough job by ourselves. Anybody brave enough to remind these cosmos-nomads of this usually ends up splattered in chunks across the pavement. The Darkest Hour follows this basic idea with an original batch of aliens intent on harvesting the conducting metals of the earth whilst turning us pathetic humans into delicate piles of carbon-based ash in the process.
Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella play the part of two American businessman on their way to Moscow only to find that they’ve been outplayed by their competitor but the cut-throat immorality of business is the least of their worries as the gentleman head to the bar to drown their sorrows and prowl for a couple of willing candidates to celebrate their inadequacies with.
On cue, arrives Natalie and Anne (played by Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor), they are so face-slappingly stupid that if you stand them side by side and blow in one of their ears, you can hear the sea.
Before the lads can even unzip their flies, the electricity cuts out and everybody trundles outside to gawp at the shiny glowing baubles falling from the sky. After a few hapless citizens spontaneously combust into ash – leaving bits of shoe and bracelets falling hilariously to the floor – it quickly becomes apparent that the aliens are not here for diplomacy. This prompts the four acquaintances to go into hiding for a pointless Big Brother style time-lapse featurette.
The rest of the film has us following the band of survivors through various plot points and various scenes of soul-numbing unoriginality. Whether they’re wandering down a street full of abandoned cars or having pleasant conversation with an old russian woman warning them of their impending doom as she hastily bricks up her windows, you get the distinct impression that you’ve seen it all before and – more importantly – you’ve seen it done better.
For me, it suddenly gets interesting when they bump into a grizzled old man who looks the spitting image of Jim Royle from The Royle Family, but a subtitle along the lines of “Aliens made of electric? My A***e!” sadly never materialises. Instead, in the five days of the aliens arriving, the bearded bumbler appears to have slapped a few household appliances to a spare AK47 he had propping up a shelf. This he brandishes as the only thing that can make those pesky aliens vulnerable to regular bullets.
The script appears to have been knocked up at the last minute by two interns scribbling key science-fiction phrases on the back of post-it notes; they don’t even bother making a half-hearted attempt at explaining the faux-science applied to combat the new alien foe. All in all, it is a film sitting in the shadows of some much greater films currently in circulation, and although I wouldn’t recommend watching it at the cinema, it is relatively decent enough to be worth renting on DVD in the future.
Out now in wide release