The Darkest Hour



Alien invasion flick has lots of violence but little blood.
  • Review Date: December 25, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Amid the movie's war violence, young people in their 20s work together to solve problems. Main characters put their lives at risk to help others. And there's a sense of camaraderie among people from different cultures.

Positive role models

The two male heroes show bravery and empathy throughout the story. They continually work to stay positive, find solutions, and help others. The characters aren't particularly deep, but they do make a nice team. Two female characters also show strength and courage.


Most of the human race is wiped out by an alien attack. Humans simply explode into ashes and disappear, with no blood or gore. Some main characters die. There are guns and shooting, a rocket launcher and flamethrower, explosions, and general chaos. Viewers see brief, scary alien faces. A dog is vaporized. Some brief arguing, and a violent zombie-shooting video game is quickly shown.


Main characters flirt in a nightclub scene, and there's some mild, brief innuendo. The female lead removes her shirt and is seen wearing a bra. There's a near kiss, which is interrupted.


One "f--k" and frequent use of "s--t," plus some use of "hell," "ass," "oh my God" (as an exclamation) "piss," "goddamn," "prick," "a--hole," and "bitch" (the last is spoken in Russian and seen in English subtitles).


Russian McDonald's ads are shown twice, prominently, with the easily recognizable "M" in the foreground. There's also a Russian Starbucks, though the sign is less recognizable.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink vodka in a nightclub. No one appears drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this alien invasion movie has little blood and gore, there's lots of death, including main characters. The aliens are invisible, and the humans die in a puff of ashes. There's some mild flirting and innuendo; language is strong, with frequent use of "s--t." Characters drink vodka in a nightclub in one scene. The movie is set in Moscow, and viewers see two very prominent Russian McDonald's ads. Fans of this genre have seen better and could probably do worse, but most teens will probably find it a forgettable experience.

What's the story?

Best friends and American dot-com entrepreneurs Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) travel to Moscow looking to expand their website but find that a local lowlife (Joel Kinnaman) has stolen their idea. Later, at a cool nightclub, Sean and Ben meet fellow travelers Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor). Just as the fun is about to begin, weird lights start descending from the sky. Unfortunately, they turn out to be killer, invisible aliens, aiming to turn the entire human race into ashes. The main characters survive the initial onslaught, but can they make their way to the American embassy and find help? Or does a deadlier fate await them?

Is it any good?


The Darkest Hour is hardly original at this point, and though many of its fellow alien invasion movies are terrible, this one has the "advantage" of being merely dull. The characters aren't deep or interesting, but at least they aren't irritating. The invisible aliens aren't scary, but at least they aren't cheap looking.

Chris Gorak -- a former art director on spectacular-looking films like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fight Club, The Man Who Wasn't There, and Minority Report -- directs. Unfortunately, he provides nothing terribly interesting to look at, except for vacant Moscow city streets. Though the main characters are Caucasian Americans, some of their cultural displacement is used to good effect, and the heroes are generally polite to their Eastern hemisphere neighbors. It's too bad the movie isn't more daring or exotic -- or fun.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is it justified in this case? Did the story leave any other options?

  • Is the movie scary? What's the scariest part of it? What would happen if the characters didn't have goals to strive for?

  • How well do the five main characters show teamwork? Which members are the weakest links, and why? Does the movie ultimately have positive role models and messages?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 25, 2011
DVD release date:April 10, 2012
Cast:Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella, Olivia Thirlby
Director:Chris Gorak
Studio:Summit Entertainment
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Space and aliens
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sci-fi action violence and some language

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written by_rose0816 January 2, 2012

More like the worst hour.

This movie is a thriller, thrillers are not meant for young children. Also, the movie has a horrible plot and a horrible ending. Not worth your time, and not meant for your kids time.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old July 23, 2012

The darkest hour.And 21 minuites

The darkest hour has a brillent idea for a sci-fi movie.The aliens are invisable and disentergrate you on touch.The acting is rather good and despite a low budget,the specail effects are good.some deaths are a bit upsetting(such as anne's) as you do end up caring about the cast.Sean becomes a good role model and hero despite his best freind's death.Anne becomes braver.Natalie tries hard to protect her freind's.Ben learns to trust people and becomes more brave.Even Skyler saves his freinds.Each character is a good role model.Some drinking is seen and some swearing but small kid's would be okay to see this
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byMJ reviewer December 30, 2011

Bad movie great for Teens

A wanna be alien invasion movie that teens will love not scary but if you have soft kids they may not wanna watch it


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