Had the filmmakers been honest, they’d have called it The Darkest 89 Minutes.
In The Darkest Hour – a punishingly uninspired horror – two odious young dotcom entrepreneurs (Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella) travel to Moscow to unveil their latest app only to find they’ve been trumped by an even sleazier rival (Joel Kinnaman). The disgruntled pair hook up with two likely ladies via their app, but before long all five are under attack from a host of invisible electrical aliens eager to decimate Moscow by consuming their prey.
The Darkest Hour unfolds with a procession of cardinal sins. The early set-up is so briskly rudimentary that it neglects to provide a reason to care about the characters, meaning their peril is utterly inconsequential and suspense levels are nil. Hirsch and Minghella (both giving desultory performances) are so unlikable that one is tempted to root for the aliens, though even great actors would struggle to wrap their lips around dialogue this clichéd and banal.
Even the final preserve of derivative horror films – the inventively gruesome death (see the Final Destination series) – is absent here. Once you’ve seen one unpleasant buffoon ground into grey dust by an electrical current, you’ve seen them all. Matters aren’t aided by ropey alien POV shots that look like cut scenes from '90s TV fave The Crystal Maze.
It’s almost impossible to deduce the point of The Darkest Hour. Perhaps it’s an attempted satire of hyperconnected techie culture in which we consume so much electricity that it begins to consume us. Sadly, even this generous interpretation is fatally undercut by the millions of dollars of electricity it no doubt took to inflict this crap on the world. If there’s an allegorical lesson to be drawn here, it’s that studios should invest their money more wisely.
All this means you're left to wonder what a craftier genre filmmaker – think John Carpenter or Walter Hill – could have done with such material. We’ll never know, and instead we’re left with a turgid shambles that’s never quite silly enough to qualify for so-bad-it’s-good status.
Terrible poster. Terrible trailer. Juices not flowing.
Had the filmmakers been honest, they’d have called it The Darkest 89 Minutes. An ordeal.