Ok, so there is one basic question that needs to be answered about 'The Darkest Hour' and that is about its genre. Publicised as a sci-fi horror flick, even though it has an element of sci-fi to it, there isn't even an iota of horror component there. Okay, so one wasn't hunting for that to begin with but when the publicity states so in bold print, one is bound to look for it as well. In that aspect, 'The Darkest Hour' is a plain action movie with a bit or two thrill here and that's about it.
Let's admit it, 'The Darkest Hour' is basically a B-movie that doesn't even come close to Battle Los Angeles (belonging to similar genre), which again wasn't great shakes to begin with. A starless movie made of youngsters who may just have hopped out of 'I Know What You Did Less Summer' franchise, it begins with a business deal gone kaput but soon changes focus to an alien invasion.
Now the first jolt come here itself because the turn of events is really abrupt. At one point the group of four good guys (two boys, two girls) and one not-so-good-boy are partying in a night club and a few moments later, the entire city is out on street as the inhabitants discover a halo in the sky. It is one jerky move from indoors to outdoors that does make you a little wary of how the drama/thrill/action would unfold from this point on.
Thankfully the arrival of aliens as an electromagnetic/microwave (or some other mumbo jumbo alike) shape and format is interestingly done and their entry sequence (where they begin to unleash the terror) is done in a predictable, yet interesting fashion. VFX coupled with the 3D effects here is worthy enough to be mentioned as it just paves the way for a thrilling ride ahead. Well, thankfully that does happen as well once it is established that these aliens are hell bent on gaining electrical power and would destroy anything that comes their way.
What also keeps one reasonably engaged in the proceedings is the revelation around strengths and weakness of these aliens and the means with which they can be identified. It is at that stage where five youngsters come together for a common cause which, simply put, is about escaping from the dreaded place. A few chase sequences followed by an extended stay in a shopping mall has it's moments as well, especially when the alien comes striking all over again in the night.
However the moment narrative shifts to a neighbouring apartment where youngsters discover a Russian girl along with an electrician/plumber who is devising a gun to take on the aliens, 'The Darkest Hour' starts becoming a little repetitive. Also, around this point one would have expected that scale of the film would become much bigger but surprisingly that doesn't quite happen as a number of sequences end up creating a sense of suffocation for not just the characters but also the audience.
Another thing which pulls down 'The Darkest Hour' is the lack of clear characterisation that would have resulted in some genuine concern and sympathy for the protagonists. This means even as one youngster after another starts getting killed in a 'slasher thriller' like format, you just put it behind you as 'just another' killing and move on. No wonder, even when the climax fight happens with some of the Russian army men coming together to help a couple that has survived so far, there isn't much that you end up cheering about.
Director Chris Gorak has a good subject in hand that could have really gone a much larger distance had there been a far bigger canvas to the film along with some genuinely spine chilling moments and some thrilling action. However what one gets to see is a half baked film that only marginally manages to hold your attention and keep you entertained.