Night Skies (2007) / Sci Fi-Horror
MPAA Rated: R for violence, disturbing images, and language
Running Time: 84 min.
Cast: Jason Connery, A.J. Cook, George Stults, Joe Sikora, Ashley Peldon, Gwendoline Yeo, Michael Dorn
Director: Roy Knyrim
Screenplay: Eric Miller
The "Phoenix Lights" is the name given to a phenomenon that occurred on March 13, 1997, in the skies over parts of Arizona and Nevada. It was a cluster of lights moving in the sky in a concerted formation, which many civilian spectators deemed to be a UFO of non-human origin. The US Air Force has dismissed these claims, stating it was likely flares from one of their aircraft dropped during a training exercise.
Night Skies reportedly deals with "true events" (read: a Blair Witch-type fictionalized account, most likely) as recounted through hypnosis-therapy by one of the people who witnessed the phenomenon, reportedly abducted by the strange aliens aboard the UFO, experimented on, then left in the Arizona desert for dead. In the film, a group of five young adults are driving their RV through Arizona when vehicle problems occur that leave them stranded, while one of them is critically injured. A man driving a passing pickup stops to assist them, but strange sounds and sights begin to emerge, culminating in a fight for survival with what appears to be humanoid creatures of unearthly origin.
Make-up artist and special effects supervisor Roy Knyrim directs this haunting piece which he has reportedly called The Hills Have Eyes with aliens. With his talent on board, it shouldn't come as a major surprise that this low budget sci-fi tale boasts decent effects visuals (for a small independent), with good use of puppet models and costumes to enhance the overall experience of an alien abduction. Unfortunately, the rest is very routine, with typical horror movie plotting (an attractive ensemble of helpless 20-somethings picked off one by one), while the delivery of the non-effects scenes come off as cheap and unconvincing.
Night Skies might only merit a recommendation for lovers of B-movie sci-fi/horror, as this plays every bit like the somewhat cheesy, straight-to-video effort it is. The special effects work remains the only aspect of note in this otherwise standard schlock, and even with a few disturbingly horrific developments near the end of the film, it's not nearly as harrowing as it needed to be to induce a genuine sense of horror, dread, or suspense as a whole.
As far as a grade, I'd say it's barely passable for genre fans, although I do give it an "F" for those watching who are interested in the "Phoenix Lights" phenomena, as there doesn't seem to be (at least that I can find) evidence for any of the events (except for the lights) that transpire in the film, including the existence of the eyewitness under hypnosis. Take the "F" and what do you have left? A new title for the movie: "Lying Saucers"
©2006 Vince Leo