''Dark Skies'' is a 2013 horror film about a typical American suburban family suddenly beset by strange occurrences: things are stacked in odd and impossible ways, crop-circle designs appear, hundreds of birds smash into the house, and one of the children reports nightly visits from a strange figure he calls "the sandman." The story is deeply psychological, with much of the dramatic tension coming from the inability of the characters to prove to the world outside the family just what is happening to them.

NB: Shares a title with a [[Series/DarkSkies 90s TV show]].

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!! This movie contains examples of:

* AdultFear: Something is after your children and there is NOTHING you can do to stop them.
** Also: you may be losing your mind, your memories, or control over your own body. Brr.
** Feeling like a lab rat, a part of an experiment that you have no idea even exists in the first place.
** [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Your teenage son going through puberty.]]
* AlienAbduction: The family experiences vaguely defined alien experiments.
* AllTheoriesAreTrue: Pop-culture notions of alien abductions, crop circles and other 'supernatural' occurrences are shown to be true in the context of the story.
** In a partial subversion, the "alien expert" the family talks to says he's doubtful of the existence of insectoid or reptilian aliens.
* AnimalMetaphor: The creepy pet reptile at the beginning. This constitutes a bit of {{foreshadowing}} here early in the game. Mother asks if the younger son's "nursing" it back to health is "compassion or torture," father jokingly replies, "I'll go with the latter."
* BlueAndOrangeMorality: [[spoiler: It's explicitly stated that understanding the aliens' motivations, reasoning, or morality is practically impossible. They simply don't think like we do.]]
* BringMyBrownPants: The younger son has a potty incident for some unapparent, but seemingly supernatural and sinister reason.
* CatapultNightmare: The mother has one after waking from a dream where she thought that she lost control of her body and harmed herself in public. [[spoiler: Then she learns [[RealAfterAll it actually happened]].]]
* TheChessmaster: [[spoiler: The aliens have a secret plan that no mere mortal human can know and play mindgames with the family. Their mindgames serve to isolate them from people from the outside who could assist them or aid in reducing the psychological tension, which at least ''seems'' to be part of their plan.]]
* ClearTheirName: The family is suspected, at various points, of abuse and foul-play [[spoiler: in their son's abduction]]
* CosmicHorrorStory: [[spoiler: The world is pretty much controlled by godlike beings whose motivations and reasoning is beyond human comprehension. We are simply used as experiments by them and there's no way we're going to fight them off, because ''they already took over everything without us knowing''. Their plots can be thwarted but only on the off-chance that you make yourself such an annoyance that they decide to just start the experiment again with someone less irritating. The heroes fail to do so, just as expected.]]
* CreepyChild: The youngest son is this at times.
* [[spoiler: DownerEnding: The protagonists fail to fight off the aliens and their eldest son is taken. And because nobody believes their insane story, they are now being investigated for his disappearance and could possibly have their other son taken away. The only bright spot is the very last scene which implies that the aliens may have decided to return the elder son. The alternate ending is even worse; ending with the remaining child's nose massively bleeding like the father's earlier which implies that after taking the elder son, the aliens might still come back to take the younger son, too.]]
* EldritchAbomination: The aliens border on this.
* EvilDetectingDog: The family buys one specifically for this purpose. It's also lampshaded and discussed. [[spoiler: Apparently dogs react aggressively in the presence of the aliens, but cats don't for whatever reason.]]
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** [[spoiler: Alien contact results in sickness. The older boy was sick a lot when he was born: He was the one the aliens had first contact with.]]
** The visit to the expert gives them an idea of things to come, not just what the aliens might do, but what kind of social conditions the family can expect.
* TheGrays: While the other pop-culture alien groups (e.g., TheReptilians) are alluded to, these bad boys are the villains.
* GenreSavvy: The Mom gets a better understanding of the crop circles, mass bird attractions, lost time, etc. via the internet.
* HermitGuru: While not a hermit living in a cave ''per se'', the SmartGuy who enlightens the parents before the PapaWolf turning point in the film, does have some things in common with Hermit Gurus in general; e.g. the crazy apartment he lives in, which the camera takes pains to show us extensively; the number of cats he has; and, most importantly, his social isolation.
* InscrutableAliens: The narrative tells us outright that the advanced aliens' true motives cannot be known by mere humans.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: Are the weird happenings in the initial stages of the film just natural, or are they caused by CGI-generated citizens of the Delta Quadrant?
* MindScrew: [[spoiler: The vision the aliens give the eldest son confuses us as well; it's justified as it was meant to confuse and distract him.]]
* MixAndMatch: The movie is basically [[{{Film/Poltergeist}} Poltergeist]] with the haunted-house conventions re-appropriated in an alien-abduction setting.
* MotherNatureFatherScience: Pretty gendered stuff here: The father tries to put the brakes on his wife's suspicions about something supernatural being at work, looks instead for a rational explanation (which leads him to several NotSoStoic moments).
* NightmareFuelColoringBook: Sam's drawings are either inspired by the works of Alberto Giacometti or he's having Close Encounters of the CGI Kind.
* NoPeripheralVision: [[spoiler: In one scene, the mother is walking down a hallway while an alien sneaks up right behind her. She doesn't turn around.]]
* NotSoStoic: The father attempts on several occasions to be the intellectual and material "rock" in protecting the family, but it ends with his attacking the neighbor kid and getting beat up by his father in front of the middle-class, suburban neighbors he's always tried to keep up a good masculine-family-guy facade for.
* OrWasItADream: One of the first indications that there may be a supernatural invader in the home is the younger boy's telling the mother that the Sandman visited him in his dream.
* PoliceAreUseless: A cop comes and just blames all of the sinister weirdness on a family member sleepwalking or on a kid with a psychological problem, resulting in epic YouHaveToBelieveMe.
* ProperlyParanoid: To everyone else, it looks like the family's gone completely bonkers. [[spoiler: This is exactly what TheGreys wanted.]]
* TheReveal: [[spoiler: They were after the older son all along.]]
* ShoutOut: To E.T.A. Hoffmann's 19th-century gothic short-story ''The Sandman'', which the older son reads to the younger as a bedtime story. Both stories play with ThroughTheEyesOfMadness and UnreliableNarrator extensively. There's also some parallels in the RomanticismVersusEnlightenment of the mother and father (respectively) in ''Sandman'' to the MotherNatureFatherScience in ''Dark Skies''. More generally, both works operate on the fear of someone in the story being the unwitting subject of a strange and ghastly experiment by TheConspiracy.
* TheSmartGuy: The expert on alien abductions who helps lead the parents to accept what's happening, [[spoiler: conveniently right before the aliens abduct the son.]]
* SupernaturalProofFather: Until a decisive moment near the end of the film, he staunchly refuses to believe. Once he does, it's PapaWolf time.
* ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight: Obviously. The aliens are mostly working the third shift.
** CropCircles: While not in the crops, brief glimpses of these appear throughout.
** SleepWalking: Some mystery is created by the viewer's and the character's not knowing whether someone is sleepwalking and arranging things in a troubling way in the house.
* ThroughTheEyesOfMadness: Characters in the story are at various times presumed to be hallucinating or just suffering from some weird form of schizophrenia, which contributes more drive and psychological tension to the story line.
* TragicMistake: [[spoiler: They didn't want the younger son, they wanted the older one.]]
* UnreliableNarrator: The story is told through the eyes of people with alien implants.
* YouHaveToBelieveMe: The mother wants the cop and her husband to believe her that there's something going on in the house and they just play it off as one of the kids going off the deep end. The first three-quarters of the film is the mother against the father within the framework of the aforementioned MotherNatureFatherScience. [[spoiler: Even the their lawyer doesn't believe them about what exactly happened to their son.]]

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