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Film / The Darkest Hour

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The Darkest Hour is a 2011 Russian-American film about a Horde of Alien Locusts invading Earth. Invisible except for occasional orange ripples, deadly to the touch, and basically invincible, they quickly slaughter everyone in their path.

Ben (Max Minghella) and Sean (Emile Hirsch), two American entrepreneurs, join up with their corrupt Swedish business partner Skyler (Joel Kinnaman) and two female tourists, Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor) as they try to make their way out of Moscow.

Not to be confused with the 2017 historical film Darkest Hour.

Tropes in The Darkest Hour:

  • Achilles' Heel: The aliens are for all intents completely invincible while they're shielded and invisible. Even a direct hit from an armor piercing rocket only knocks off a chunk of metal the size of a man's fist. When the shields are down, however, it's another story - it only takes a few seconds of sustained automatic small-arms fire to kill one. The real revelation comes when Sean throws that chunk of metal at an unshielded alien - it disintegrates like its victims did.
  • Action Survivor: Everyone has their moments, but Sean and Sergai stand out among all others.
  • Affection-Hating Kid: Vika, at the end of the movie is grossed out by an Almost Kiss.
  • Anyone Can Die: Ben is set up as a strong main character early on, which leads to his surprising death later.
  • Artistic License Physics: A radio is shown to work with no apparent loss in quality while inside Sergai's Faraday cage, and later Natalie uses her cell phone inside a submarine.
  • Asshole Victim: Surprisingly subverted with Skyler. The character is initially portrayed as a despicable Jerkass who scams the protagonists and abandons his girlfriend to her death during the first alien attack, which makes it seem like he's going to be a prime candidate for this trope. However, he later shows remorse for his actions, and when he eventually dies it's by making a Heroic Sacrifice to save the other survivors.
  • Badass Bookworm: Sergai, an electrician, made an improvised Faraday cage and microwave gun to combat the aliens.
  • Badass Bystander: The bartender in the club has his moment when the aliens first arrive. He puts together a Molotov Cocktail and throws it at an alien. Nevertheless, the alien charges up a powered blast which severs his arm and puts a hole in the wall. The heroes attempt to save him by dragging him to safety, but he dies from the shock. They wrap his corpse in plastic film.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The aliens are metallic lifeforms, and thus consume conductive metals to survive. They also see via a form of electrolocation, done by generating their own electrical field, which can light up electrical light sources.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The aliens sense electricity, like some Earth animals do. This means they can't see through glass.
  • Cat Scare: A breeze freaks the characters out when they mistake it for the invisible movements of an alien.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The chunk of metal that falls off one of the aliens after it takes a direct hit from an armor piercing rocket. When Sean throws it at an unshielded alien, it disintegrates like its victims did.
  • Contrived Coincidence: A lot.
    • Sean and Ben are searching a police car when they are caught in the open by an Alien. Desperate, they hide underneath the vehicle as it scans the car for signs of life. While it does this, the car lights up in all it's electrical glory, with the siren blaring and lights flashing. This lets the heroes know that the Aliens can be spotted by how they make electrical devices and light sources activate.
    • Sean is in a clothing store in a shopping mall when another Alien comes in to search the building. Sean lies still and hopes for the best, while the alien just floats on past him. He then realizes that he was behind a pane of glass, and therefore invisible to the alien, as since they sense electricity, they cannot see through glass.
  • Dramatic Irony: The aliens only see in some form of electrolocation, meaning they more or less sense the Electricity in a living being by generating their own electrical field. This also means they cannot see through glass, one of the most transparent solids known to man, as glass is not a conductor of electricity. So if you find yourself cornered by an Alien, hide behind glass.
  • Dwindling Party: The original party starts off with five, then by the end of the movie those original survivors are down to two.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The film ends with a limited number of survivors (including a few of the protagonists) going to rendezvous, effective weapons against the aliens developed, and the possibility that the aliens will just up and leave once they're done taking what they need.
  • EMP: The aliens' arrival causes this, knocking out basically everything that wasn't somehow shielded.
  • Energy Beings: The aliens are implied to be this, but it's subverted later on. They're actually metallic heads with razor-sharp tentacles/rings inside an invisible shield.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: Used by the Russian Spec Ops on their Big Damn Heroes Establishing Character Moment. Turns out that if you shoot them enough, the aliens will run away (it takes flamethrowers and direct bazooka hits, though).
  • Foreshadowing/The Cuckoo Lander Was Right: A woman at the beginning (the one walling herself into her house) says "watch out for the lights". Later on they use lightbulbs as an early warning signal against the aliens.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Skyler, the jerkass of the movie, finds himself cut off from the others by two aliens. In order to buy the others time to escape, he begins blindly firing his rifle at the aliens before the both of them take turns vaporizing his legs and torso. Ouch!
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When an unshielded alien is struck by a piece of another one, it disintegrates like its victims did.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The aliens have shields which render them nearly invisible except for occasional electrical arcs on the surface. It also instantly vaporizes anything it touches, and can shrug off a direct hit from an armor piercing rocket.
  • I Will Fight Some More Forever: Why the Russian Spec Ops decide to stay behind in Moscow at the end: it's their home and they are going to keep fighting for it. And with the microwave guns, they have now a pretty good fighting chance.
    "Today we have learned how to fight. Go and tell others what we know. This is the last day of extermination... and the first day of war."
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While far from the nicest character, the jerkass still has a point when he suggests going to the Swedish Embassy since it's closer.
  • Kill It with Fire: One of the early attempts to deal with the aliens. It doesn't hurt them, but the energy from the fire keeps them at bay.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The bartender at the nightclub tosses a few at the attacking alien (see above).
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Almost every Russian character is a badass in more or less extent in this movie.
  • Planet Looters: The aliens only want Earth's resources, specifically conductive metals. Humans are just in the way.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The first human we see get vaporized is an Officer of the Moscow PD, after he attempts to prod an alien with his nightstick. His partner pulls out his sidearm, and after he watches his first shot disintegrate on contact, that's the only warning he needs before he backs off away from it.
    • Days after the initial invasion, our protagonists come across an abandoned cop car in the middle of the Red Square. With it's doors and trunk unlocked, and all the human ash nearby, it's likely that these officers and any others didn't fare any better.
  • Red Shirt: The person they drag into the storage room that they camp out in at the beginning is wearing a red shirt, and is soon found to be dead.
  • Rule of Drama: Even though any place is as safe or dangerous as any other Skylar and Anne like to argue about any plans.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After watching his first shot get disintegrated by the alien that just killed his partner, a Moscow Police Officer quickly takes the hint and backs away from the alien at quite a pace.
  • Time Skip: Four days pass as they hide out in the storage room. This allows the rest of the city to turn into a deserted wasteland for our characters.
  • Touch of Death: Anything that touches the aliens' shields is disintegrated on contact.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Anne, full stop. After they are copped by an alien, Action Survivor Vika tells them to run to a safe place she knows of where they can hide. Anne instead decides to run back to Sergei's Faraday cage, prompting Natalie and the alien to follow her. Once there, she pushes the gate open without unlocking it, which breaks the lock and consequently the gate. The alien gets inside the cage, compromising their safe haven and getting both herself and Sergei killed. Too dumb to live indeed.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: The Russian encampment is lit by a couple of burning trashcans.
  • War Was Beginning: "This the last day of extermination... and the first day of war."
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The aliens can't see through glass.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: Once their shields are breached, the aliens are shown to be surrounded by spinning rings.
  • Wormsign: The aliens are invisible, but their highly-charged shielding has the side-effect of powering any electrical device nearby. This even extends to light bulbs that aren't plugged into anything.