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The Darkest Hour is the story of five young people who find themselves stranded in Moscow, fighting to survive in the wake of a devastating alien attack. The 3D thriller highlights the classic beauty of Moscow alongside mind-blowing special effects from the minds of visionary filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov and director Chris Gorak.
Arriving amidst a mysterious lightening storm, young Internet entrepreneurs Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) land in the vibrant Russian capital to pursue their business dreams in the international economic center, full of new money but unscrupulous business practices. Travelers Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor), stranded in Moscow by an unscheduled stop over en route to Nepal, make the best of it by seeking adventure in one of the nightlife capitals of the world.
The two pairs of best friends meet amid the glitz and glamour of the Zvezda Nightclub, the hot spot for the international and the beautiful in Moscow, including the young turk Skylar (Joel Kinnaman), the Swedish businessman who duped Sean and Ben. A mecca for the globe trotting youth, supermodels, and business elite congregating in Moscow, the club is quickly transformed to a scene of terror when the aliens invade and everything goes dark.
After surviving the initial attack hiding underground, days later the five emerge into the confines of a Moscow that’s become increasingly alien – the once pulsating city is now without power and is all but deserted, yet occupied by a force they don’t understand. Made up of electromagnetic wave energy, the alien beings kill brutally by shredding earthly life forms, reducing those in their way to their molecular structure instantly.
The aliens are also basically invisible to humans, however anything electrical gives them away. Daytime is now dangerous, so the survivors learn to travel across the city in the safety of night, while confronting their individual reactions to these extraordinary circumstances where everything familiar is gone.
Throughout their journey across a foreign city to find help, the dwindling band encounter various Russian survivors who help them start to unravel the mysteries of the near-invisible invaders, their goals and weaknesses, and most importantly, how to fight back.
The Darkest Hour began as the seed of an idea often discussed by producer Tom Jacobson and executive producer Monnie Wills. “About five years ago, we were talking about what would it be like to survive in the wake of an alien apocalypse where we lost?” explains Jacobson. “What happens the day after Independence Day?
We were interested in a story that is focused just on the characters. Where were they? I like stories about humanity and science fiction, with the classic themes such as ordinary people in the midst of extraordinary circumstances. What would happen if we were attacked, conquered, and occupied? That was the genesis of the idea.”
“I also like the notion of people in an occupied territory who don’t capitulate, like French resistance movies,” adds Jacobson. “So this is also somewhat inspired by those great World War II movies, except instead of German lines, we’re behind enemy lines of an alien occupation. That whole genre allows you to explore heroism and how you behave when you’re tested. In a theatrical world, the best science fiction can heighten those themes and therefore is very entertaining to an audience.”
Jacobson turned to his old friend Leslie Bohem, and his young writing partner, M.T. Ahern, to flesh out the concepts. “They took that shred of the idea, invented the story, and came up with the title The Darkest Hour,” says Jacobson. “It then evolved in a lot of different directions.
Les and Megan wrote a really great story about human survival, which I sold to New Regency, and then the thought came up of adding a surprising and unique element to it. Through all of these science fiction or war narratives, we’ve seen versions of everything, so let’s add an original layer.”
“A big decision was made. From page one, let’s set it in Moscow,” reveals Jacobson. “This is one of those huge ideas that changed everything… who the characters were and why would we be in Moscow. They come to this exciting vibrant city that a lot of people have heard about, but most people, especially most Americans, haven’t been there.
Moscow seemed like the type of place that young characters might adventure to,” says Jacobson. “We were all excited by making it about a group of people who are already strangers in a strange land, and when the aliens come, just became even stranger.”
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