If nothing else, the egregiously awful new sci-fi thriller The Darkest Hour adds a formidable new entry in the pantheon of hilariously unfrightening horror movie villains, a strange subset that includes such oddities as Death Bed, The Bed That Eats. Not since Mark Wahlberg trembled in fear beside a menacing houseplant in The Happening has a film tried to provoke terror with such an unlikely object of menace. The bad guys in The Darkest Hour are energy-based aliens who emerge as migratory clouds of gold dust. They’re essentially tinsel with an attitude, great gobs of glitter with a body count.
In the sort of role that inevitably leads to soul-searching, introspection, and hopefully a change in management, a shockingly bad Emile Hirsch stars as an Ugly American abroad in Moscow who soon finds himself fending off mysterious alien invaders alongside pal Max Minghella and love interest Olivia Thirlby. Hirsch’s character is introduced being smug and condescending to a stewardesss in a manner we’re supposed to find charming. Instead, it digs the glowering Hirsch into a deep hole from which he never emerges. In fact, all the whiny, unlikable, and forgettable characters here make it all too tempting to root for the alien invaders as they listlessly, half-heartedly menace the soul-crushing streets of Moscow. The Darkest Hour reeks of desperation even before the cast straps on what looks like homemade versions of Ghostbusters proton-packs and go out on the offensive against the bad guys. The Darkest Hour is a film utterly devoid of merit, a dreary sci-fi slog so tedious even its own actors seem bored. Who can blame them? They’re in a film that tries to make a variation on static cling terrifying.