The film was released on February 22, 2013.
The Barrett family—mother Lacy, father Daniel, older son Jesse, and younger son Sammy—reside on a quiet suburban street in an unnamed American city. Daniel is currently unemployed, placing the burden of supporting the family on Lacy, who works as a real estate agent. Their two sons enjoy a happy relationship and communicate with each other from their beds via walkie-talkie.
A number of strange occurrences befall the family. During the night, the contents of the kitchen are rearranged in bizarre configurations. The house alarm is set off when it detects that all entry points were breached simultaneously. Sammy suffers a fit while playing soccer and Lacy is shocked when hundreds of birds suddenly crash into the house. One night, Lacy is awakened by a sound from Sammy's room. When she goes to check on him, through the darkness she sees a figure standing over his bed. She turns on the light to find an empty room. Sammy is found walking away from the house but cannot remember leaving. Lacy, Daniel and Jesse each suffer catatonic episodes and regain consciousness with no memory of their experiences. Strange symbols are found on Jesse and Sammy's bodies.
Greatly disturbed by the various phenomena afflicting the family and the house, Lacy begins to search online for answers and finds articles attributing some of what they have experienced to UFOs and reports of alien abduction. Daniel installs security cameras throughout the house. He reviews the night's footage and frame-by-frame analysis reveals three dark figures standing over their beds as they slept. Now believing that there is an extraterrestrial force at work, Lacy and Daniel seek the help of a specialist, Edwin Pollard, who calls the beings "the Grays." Pollard informs them that many others have suffered the same fate as the Barretts, with most cases ending in a child abduction. Edwin warns the Barretts that the person who the Grays first show interest in is usually the one who is abducted and that they should be highly protective of Sammy, who he believes has been "chosen."
Daniel buys a shotgun while Lacy buys an aggressive guard dog. The family spend July 4th boarding up the windows of the house, then eat dinner and reminisce about happier times. Suddenly, the house lights begin to flicker and the dog starts barking ferociously. Lacy sends the boys upstairs and stands guard outside the door. Lacy hears the TV in her bedroom turn on. She walks towards it, unaware of a being standing directly behind her, and becomes trapped in her room. Daniel gets Jesse and Sammy into his and Lacy's room where they barricade themselves in and huddle together on the bed. The TV begins to flicker again and the beings – now revealed to be Grays – materialize in the room. Jesse blacks out and experiences a hallucination in which his father commits suicide while standing over his mother's bloodied body. Seeing his brother, Jesse chases after Sammy before reawakening in the upstairs hallway of his house. The Grays appear in front of him and he disappears with them in a flash of light, the rest of the family powerless to help.
Three months later, Lacy and Daniel are suspects in Jesse's disappearance, and have moved into an apartment. Pollard balefully cuts out a newspaper article about Jesse's disappearance and hangs it on his wall with other pictures of missing children. As Lacy is going through old things, she finds pictures that Jesse drew as a child that show the Grays surrounding him. She belatedly realizes that it was Jesse, not Sammy, in whom the Grays first showed interest, and that he was the one who had been chosen. Feedback then emanates from a nearby walkie-talkie as Lacy and Sammy both hear Jesse's faint voice calling Sammy's name.Keri Russell as Lacy Barrett
Josh Hamilton as Daniel Barrett
Dakota Goyo as Jesse Barrett
Kadan Rockett as Sammy Barrett
J. K. Simmons as Edwin Pollard
L. J. Benet as Kevin Ratner
Rich Hutchman as Mike Jessop
Myndy Crist as Karen Jessop
Annie Thurman as Shelly Jessop
Jack Washburn as Bobby Jessop
Ron Ostrow as Richard Klein
Cary Quattrocchi as Martin Haldeman
Brian Stepanek as Security system technician
Judith Moreland as Janice Rhodes
Trevor St. John as Alex Holcombe
Alyvia Alyn Lind as Young Daughter
Production commenced on August 3, 2012. Locations for filming included Los Angeles and Valencia, CA (College of the Canyons) The film was directed by Scott Stewart and produced by Jason Blum, Jeanette Brill and Couper Samuelson. The film's screenplay was written by Stewart; the original script by Stewart took about six weeks to finish writing.
Dark Skies was released in the United States on February 22, 2013 and in the United Kingdom on April 5, 2013.
Dark Skies received mixed reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 40% rating based on reviews from 78 critics, with the site's critical consensus being: "Dark Skies writer director Scott Stewart has a solid cast, an interesting premise, and some admirable ambitions, but he can't figure out what to do with any of them, and the result is a dull, muddled effort that will bore all but the most devoted horror buffs." Metacritic gives the film a score of 50 out of 100, based on reviews from 19 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post wrote that "[t]he movie builds a moderate, if less than monumental, level of spookiness, regardless of your ignorance. It’s a workmanlike piece of suspense." He gave the film 2 out of 4 stars. In a moderately favourable review for The New York Times, Andy Webster praised the film for the "consummate dexterity" with which it employed worn-out horror devices.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on May 28, 2013.