Main cast: Shawn Roberts (Jack Webster), Sara Canning (Jenny), PJ Prinsloo (Andrew), Levi James (Kevin), Leslie Hope (Carol Grey), and Alfred E Humphreys (Dr Hiller)
Director: Ron Oliver
Also called Black Rain in Canada and Red Torrent in the UK, this Canadian movie is pretty much pornography for Greenpeace. Don’t worry about confusing this one with other bigger and more established films with the same title, as chances are, you’d stumble upon this one as a filler program on cable instead of at the big screen.
Set in America despite this being a Canadian film, we have three campers – Jenny, her boyfriend Kevin, and their friend Andrew – who, one fine day, stumble upon Jack Webster. Jack turns out to be a “legend” at Stanford, the very university they all go to, but he soon retreats from civilization to live among nature in an high-tech environment. You know, he checks the chemical content of the water in the spring before he gets naked to bathe, that kind of thing. He’s rich, so he can afford to do this, after all.
So, these three start a friendship with the socially awkward Jack, and it seems that something nice may even blossom between Andrew and Jack, who are both gay.
And then it rains, and oh no, there are deadly chemicals in the rain, the water in the springs, and the next thing they know, flesh and even car roofs are starting to melt. Kevin gets badly injured when he washes his face in the stream, and now it’s a race against time to get him some medical help. It also turns out that the whole deadly chemical in the rain thing may be connected to Jack’s mysterious past.
The whole “Deadly chemicals caused by polluting efforts of evil corporate people come back to kill everyone – oh, morality time!” plot is pure left-wing pornography, and there is also an overt “Gay people are cool!” thing too. Now, I actually am all for the environment and LGBT rights, but I can’t help cringing at how ineptly some of these messages are incorporated into the movie.
It’s hard to take the pro-environment message seriously when there is so much bad science here that even someone unfamiliar with these things will get. The chemicals in the rainwater can erode human flesh, but leave the trees around these people intact – really? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On the other hand, I like how this movie humanizes gay people. Jack and Andrew are gay, but this aspect of themselves is never the sole focus of their entire characterization. I do wish these guys kiss more convincingly, though – the sole kiss between them is so awkward and awful to watch because it’s all closed, probably gritted teeth and barely a brush of the lips. And these two are supposed to be into each other? Try again, guys.
Still, the acting is actually quite competent, as all the lead players deliver their often cheesy and awkward lines convincingly and they all have an easy chemistry around each other. Additionally, Shawn Roberts must be commended for showing off his impressive rear end and upper body physique fifteen minutes into this movie. These folks sure know how to get me interested in a movie, that’s for sure.
Dark Skies, or whatever it chooses to call itself, is in its very heart a cheesy and just barely competent B-grade TV movie with a script that is more enthusiastic than coherent. Still, the main cast is very easy on the eyes, and they can carry the movie decently, so this film lands squarely in the average zone on the cheese meter. Nobody will get harmed watching this movie, so if you do stumble upon it on TV one of these days, it’s okay to stay tuned. At least, hang around for the first half hour – Mr Roberts will make sure it’s worth your time to do so. That scenery is really pretty, worth one extra oogie alone. Ahem.