The Darkest Hour is a 2011 alien invasion film. Directed by Chris Gorak starring Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, The Girl Next Door) and Olivia Thirlby (Juno). The film was shot entirely on location in Moscow, Russia.
The film follows young entrepreneurs Sean (Hirsch) and Ben as they travel to Moscow for a business meeting to promote their new travel app. Upon arriving they discover they’ve been shafted by company exec Skyler (great Russian name) as the firm they had hoped to sell the idea to has simply copied the format and made their own app. As the boys commiserate on their failings they meet up with fellow globetrotters Natalie (Thirlby) and Anne in a local night club, however the party is cut short with a citywide blackout and subsequent alien attack. After huddling down in the basement for several hours, the group eventually emerge to find a post-apocalyptic Moscow and are forced into a fight for survival with the alien invaders.
The Darkest Hour is directed by a man who had previously only been involved in production and art design, and it really shows. The film is nothing more than a hollow CGI vehicle with very little attempt at any plot or character development. This would be less insulting if the CGI was creative or original, the effects are of an impressive standard but there is a real lack of imagination with the creature design. The best thing I can liken the alien design to is a Van Der Graaf generator or perhaps disembodied Christmas lights, bland and unimpressive. This design relates to the fact that the aliens are essentially electro-static balls of energy and when they come into contact with humans, the victim turns to dust. The dust effects actually work quite well but the completely intangible nature of the aliens is not scary and builds no sense of dread for the suspenseful scenes.
The worst thing about this film by far is the diabolical script and it’s poor delivery. Even more worrying is the fact that writer Jon Spaihts has co-written the highly anticipated Prometheus (2012), as The Darkest Hour does not demonstrate an aptitude for science fiction screenwriting. Although initially I quite liked Hirsche and Minghella as the downtrodden buddies stuck in Moscow, this wore extremely thin incredibly fast and the characters who joined them were equally bland. Hirsch receives most of the terrible dialogue such as “It must be some electro-magnetic shit” and other such astute explanations for the aliens and their plan to take over the world. The real shame is, if the movie had chosen to take a more tongue-in-cheek approach then this probably would have worked, but the fact that the ridiculous premise is taken way too seriously is definitely its downfall.
The Darkest Hour is a hollow pointless romp across Moscow featuring unlikeable characters and unconvincing antagonists. The shiny CGI and baby-faced Hirsch will probably attract younger fans (after all the film is a 12A) but seasoned genre fans and anyone with half a brain will see straight through that. I would suggest that this film be retitled The Dullest Hour, but I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that it’s so mercifully short, one to avoid.