/

‘Dark Skies’

by Kaori Shoji

The always charming Keri Russell (“Waitress”) pairs up with mild-mannered Josh Hamilton (“The Bourne Identity”) as a couple thrown head first into a swamp made up of various story components from the “The X-Files” — and left floundering in the muck.

Dark Skies
Rating

Every so often, Russell seems to draw out sadistic tendencies in a director (in this case Scott Stewart) — because “Dark Skies” revels, not in making her scream (she’s the type to grit her teeth in the face of horror) but in stressing her out to the absolute limits of female tolerance, then refusing to help. Not nice. But then look what happened to Russell in “Mission Impossible III.” She was almost Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) girlfriend but wound up with a time bomb thingie wedged into her brain.

Back to “Dark Skies,” it’s not a bad film as set-in-suburbia, extraterrestrial horror stories go. The problem is that Stewart doesn’t know when, or want to, back off when it’s more advisable to do so and the characters are stranded with no resources or a window of escape, however small. Midway, it starts to feel more like bullying than filmmaking but Stewart is relentless. Especially unforgivable is the “expert” Russell’s character calls in — a Hunter S. Thompson-esque goon named Edwin (J.K. Simmons) who basically tells them they’re cooked, so get with it. That’s an expert opinion? (K.S.)