Bad Movie Tuesday: The Darkest Hour (2011)
John Leavengood, here, pinch-hitting for your regular Bad Movie Tuesday forefather The Hof. Today, I thought I’d warn you away from the movie so bad we have dedicated now two Bad Movie Tuesdays to it. Click here to read The Hof’s review.
Emile Hirsch, what happened to you? You’re playing a douchy wannabe software entrepreneur whose best lines involve flirting with a flight attendant over airplane-cell phone propaganda. We’re only a few minutes into this movie and I already finding myself disliking your protagonist. I’ve seen you quiet and soulful in Into the Wild (2007), humorously innocent in the amazing The Girl Next Door (2004), credibly authoritative in Alpha Dog (2006)…and now this? Did you lose a bet or just piss off one too many directors with vegan, gluten-free, organic catering demands? Simply accepting this role and this script was a failure before the cameras even started rolling. We’ll call this strike one.
Anyway, this software designer and his partner are on a business trip to Moscow to market a social networking app for navigating the club circuit in any major city in the world. [Why did they need to go to Moscow for this? Because it was cheaper to film the movie there.] Hirsch plays the more laid back, carefree partner who is always telling his business-oriented friend to relax. Not even ten minutes into this flick they are double-crossed by a third party and ousted out of their own deal. This really deviates from the standard formula. The Hostel series, The Chernobyl Diaries, Wrong Turn, Wolf Creek and The Cabin in the Woods rely more simply on a group of friends going on a vacation. It’s simple but it works. You never find yourself saying “what’s the point in them being in Moscow for this business deal” and the movie’s credibility is maintained until the real fun starts when the players begin to drop one by one to whatever the random malevolent force the writers dreamed up. That’s strike two.
So our boys go out clubbing to drink away their failed business venture and meet up with two cuties. They seem to get along when suddenly there’s a world-scale power outage and countless energy-based life forms fall from the sky like snow-flaky embers aglow with Tinkerbell’s fairy dust. They start incinerating people like vampires to Blade’s silver katana, people start running and screaming, and we’re only fifteen minutes into the movie. Well, at least we didn’t have to suffer through the business deal plot any more.
This reminded me of Ray Parks’ acrobatics as Darth Maul.
As people scream and turn into aerosol compost our heroes, now numbering five with the addition of the shark who screwed them over on their app idea, hide in a restaurant store room. A week after the invisible, incinerating invasion began, they emerge to go to the US Embassy…because they wouldn’t have been charred, right? Oh, and the slick douchebag has turned into an annoying high strung coward. Those characters are so annoying and they never get killed off as fast as you’d like.
Our aliens probing for food.
The streets of Moscow have turned into an I Am Legend, soulless dust bowl of abandoned cars and ghostly edifices. Hirsch leads the way as they remain ever vigilant. Because these energy-based aliens activate electronic devices (i.e., lights) when they are present, our heroes learn to travel when it’s safest: night.
Light bulb caltrops.
At one point Hirsch avoids detection by standing perfectly still as the creature just strolled by unaware on the other side of a window. Considering that these things see lifeforms like glowing fireballs of infrared, making them extremely obvious, I think that moment of idiocy makes for strike three. They can’t see through glass or metal cages? Whatever! Now I have to watch these idiots walking around like glass shield-bearing knights. Just stupid!
Along the way their group grows by two, one of which is an annoying Russian girl with such memorable lines as “It’s okay, I’m tough” and “I am not a kid!” Barf! I hope she dies next. But luckily the other addition, a wacked out electrician, invented a Ghostbusters microwave gun to combat our electric invaders.
I guess the effects were tolerable. But how many times can you entertain me with people getting jerked into the air for a second and then getting turned to spiraling cinders by some invisible dust devil alien? They shatter glass and detonate doors—boring. After they disintegrated the first few people and a dog the kills got boring. Our heroes start freaking out every time a breeze kicks up some debris and then the dumb shit really hits the fan. They meet dumber tough-talking characters who fight the aliens in dumb ways wearing dumb outfits amid ridiculously dumb scenarios and give dumb speeches about preserving every human life they can. Just truckloads and truckloads of dumb! Oh, and eventually you get to see these aliens and, you guessed it, they look dumb! The worst effects in the movie were dedicated to showing us what the aliens truly look like without their invisibility shield—they look like some weird floating head monster from Doom. It’s most upsettingly dumb when Hirsch kills an alien by throwing a charred piece of another dead alien at it. One throw? Really? Climax-fail! Sorry, we’re out of strikes.
In the end I wished everyone died. The quality of this movie actually decreased as the running time wore on and, accordingly, I turned on the characters more and more with every passing scene. I won’t say skip this movie. But if you choose to watch it, watch and mock it with friends.