"The Weekend Rent" offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Fridays.
We can't tell you exactly what the sci-fi horror film Dark Skies, now playing in theaters, is about because the movie was not screened for critics and details are sparse. Judging from the posters and trailer (and, well, the title), it appears to be about a couple trying to protect their family from an alien threat that preys on children. Then again, it could be a drama about meteorologists, but we somehow doubt it.
Alien abduction has been depicted on-screen many times in the past with wildly varying degrees of success. Here are the best and the worst movies with extraterrestrial kidnappers.
Communion: This 1989 film based on the book of the same name by Whitley Strieber about the author's real-life account of alien visitations is by no means a fantastic flick. Still, Christopher Walken gives an unhinged, bizarre performance as Strieber—a mumbler haunted by memories of strange lights, rubbery-looking grey aliens, and paintings that "attack." Walken captures the unease someone in this situation might feel. What's more unsettling is why visitors from another planet would choose Walken to abduct, given that the inimitable actor is already alien-like.
Fire in the Sky: Also based on a real-life experience, this 1993 film is about Arizona logger Travis Walton who is left by his buddies after he is struck by a beam of light from a UFO. He is found five days later traumatized and naked. When he later has a flashback about the painful examination he claims he actually underwent onboard an alien craft, we as viewers can't help but squirm in our seats and wonder about what really happened to this man.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Steven Spielberg's sci-fi classic is still the final word in alien abduction. No other movie on this list took the subject as seriously or was executed as wonderfully as this 1977 film. Who can forget the scene in which a young boy is lured out of his home by otherworldly lights only to be taken away in the sky as his distraught mother chases after him? The Blu-ray version has three cuts of the film (theatrical, special edition and director's cut) all on one disc via seamless-branching technology.
Alien Seed: Finding this 1989 direct-to-video abomination on DVD might be a bit of a challenge, but if you're a die-hard Erik Estrada fan (and, really, who isn't?), you'll want to see him ham it up as the evil Dr. Stone in this movie about an alien who impregnates an Earth woman so that she will birth an alien messiah. The production values on display here make those Syfy original movies with Sharktopusses and Megasharks seem positively top-notch.
Skyline: This 2010 sci-fi stinker takes place in Santa Monica, California as alien ships hover over the planet and are abducting people who stare at their blue lights into the alien ships like moths drawn to a bug zapper. The effects here aren't really the problem as much as the choice to focus on four L.A. idiots stuck in a high-rise apartment, one of whom mentions her pregnancy every other sentence and another who talks about being a hip-hop baller. There are aliens over the ocean, people.
The Fourth Kind: Milla Jovovich, we cherish you, but you serve us a bag of baloney at the beginning of this fake documentary that purports to combine dramatized scenes with actual footage. Jovovich plays a psychologist based in Alaska who helps patients recount their alien-abduction experiences under hypnosis. This movie would work a whole lot more if it didn't try so hard—and unsuccessfully—to sell us on the idea that what we are watching is anything more than an alien B movie.
All of the films listed above are available on DVD and/or Blu-ray as well as on various VOD services. What is your favorite alien-abduction movie?