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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Dark Skies

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Josh Hamilton and Kadan Rockett star in a scene from the movie "Dark Skies."
The restrained, but not overly original, thriller "Dark Skies" (Dimension) comes backed by the producers behind the "Paranormal Activity" franchise. And, both for better and worse, it shows.

Thus, writer-director Scott Stewart, like his "Paranormal" counterparts, presents viewers with comparatively little violence; only one passing scene relies, for its effect, on the sight of blood. But some of the proceedings—like the inexplicable rearranging of various kitchen items—feel too familiar, by now, to be scary.

As for the found footage device, Stewart holds off on introducing it, seemingly as long as he dares. But even so, its eventual, seemingly inevitable, appearance is likely to inspire a weary sigh.

The film's premise also feels well-worn: Ordinary suburban couple Lacy (Keri Russell) and Daniel (Josh Hamilton) Barrett and their sons—teen Jessie (Dakota Goyo) and 6-year-old Sam (Kadan Rockett)—are beset by a series of disturbing events.

Baffled and frightened, the parents eventually turn to reclusive conspiracy theorist Edwin Pollard (J.K. Simmons). His explanation indicates that the Barretts have unwittingly drawn the attention of some highly unusual, and potentially dangerous, visitors.

Stewart works into his script the pro-family notion that clan discord—under economic pressure, Lacy and Daniel have been quarreling—assists dark forces. But, with Jessie going through a rebellious phase, Stewart also shows us some adolescent experimentation with drugs, pornography and other forms of sexuality that make his eerie offering unsuitable for kids.

The film contains fleeting gore, brief scenes of sensuality, some involving teens, nongraphic marital lovemaking, a couple of uses of profanity and a smattering of crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I am sure there are frequently tiny miracles where you protect us and are present to us although you always remain anonymous. Help me appreciate how carefully you watch over me and my loved ones all day long, and be sensitive enough to stay close to you. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

 
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