The Darkest Hour: "This Wasn't Just Moscow. New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, All Reported Invisible Invaders"

Director: Chris Gorak
Writer:    John Spaihts
               Leslie Bohem
               M.T. Ahern
Starring: Emile Hirsch
               Olivia Thirlby
               Rachael Taylor
               Max Minghella
               Joel Kinnaman
               Joshua Seth
Rating:    **

Release Date: 13/01/12
There are some genuinely good ideas in Chris Gorak's 3D flick, The Darkest Hour. There's some pretty inventive alien designs, it tries some exciting scientific ideas and the setting is fairly unknown and fresh. Unfortunately though, film making isn’t only about the concept, it has a lot to do with how it is made. Rather than giving us some decent characters to feel for, any interesting character development, or really that much of an interesting storyline, we are left with a bunch of glossed over action sequences, that grow increasingly tiring.

The story follows two young friends, Sean and Ben (Hirsch & Minghella), who are travelling to Moscow for an exciting business opportunity. When they're undercut by a thieving competitor (Kinnaman), the two protagonists head off to a nightclub where the unthinkable happens: aliens made of pure energy unleash a global attack. The male lead group, along with their competitor, are joined by two vapid women they meet at the club (Thirlby & Taylor) and together they do whatever they can to survive the attack from the invisible enemy.

The Darkest Hour's biggest issue isn’t so much the undeveloped characters, as as it is the fact that they are never developed to begin with. For instance, to start with Sean is shown as being a cheeky chap and pretty childish, but once the battle against the aliens begins, that whole persona vanishes. Without any decent personalities, the audience cannot make a connection with them, so we don't care about them, and it doesn't help that the onscreen relationships are null and void. Any minor characters we meet are even more one-dimensional than the leads, so there is nothing, character-wise, for us to sink our teeth into, and because we don't care about anyone the film lacks thrills and excitement. I found it particularly amusing that even when a character dies, everything and everyone brushes them aside as if they never existed. The Darkest Hour is always in a rush to get somewhere, even though it’s extremely apparent that it has no idea where it’s going.

There is so much wasted potential in this film it is almost a joke. The Russian setting is meant to add this fish-out-of-water tension,  but none of that really develops and soon enough you forget they are in a different country. While the notion of invisible enemies is pretty scary, but some lazy direction and poor CGI means that the group are often being chased around by clouds of yellow smoke. The movie is even stupid enough to commit the crime of killing off the one and only vaguely interesting and fun character within 10 minutes of his introduction. Basically, every single interesting concept in this film is screwed up and flushed down the toilet.

The one and only thing that Gorak’s film has going for it is the pacing, but that comes about purely because everything else is ignored. The characters are constantly on the move, and whilst the killings aren't scary, there is enough of them to keep the audience interested. The final product is purely the ghost of a script that started as an epic tale of survival in a foreign land and was slowly stamped down until only the action bare-essentials remained. The result is a product that moves quickly and is extremely predictable, filled with flat characters, and has absolutely no tension. All in all, I'm gonna say, avoid at all costs.

The Darkest Hour - Trailer