Directed by Roy Knyrim
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
On March 13, 1997 there was an occurrence in Arizona that to this very day has not been explained. Thousands of people including state officials and police had reported seeing strange lights in the sky that were flying in a formation of sorts. The word bizarre just doesn’t cover what happened that night. Whether you’re a believer in UFOs or not, you cannot help but wonder. This phenomenon has since become known as The Phoenix Lights. Check out that website to learn more. It was only a matter of time before someone, somewhere chose this subject to build a movie around, and here it is.
Night Skies, according to the DVD box, is “inspired by real events”. I suppose just how real things are would depend on whom you were talking to. In any event, after an opening in which we see footage from an actual press conference regarding the lights, we’re introduced to our six characters (of which only three can act). Guess what they did on their road trip? Took their RV on the scenic route of course! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — no matter what goes on in my life, I will never leave a main road or a highway to get someplace. Ever. Of course the mysterious lights in the sky end up distracting the driver (Stults) of our protagonists just long enough to involve them all in a car wreck.
So there’s your setup —
Night Skies for all intents and purposes is just your average little monster movie. In fact it’s relatively cliche. First let’s talk about the acting. A. J. Cook, Jason Connery, and Gwendoline Yeo completely carry the film. Everyone else is nothing short of annoying and wooden. Even when the most ludicrous of situations befall our heroes (i.e., someone falling on a knife during the car wreck and thereby stabbing themselves in the back — I shit you not), this trio does their best to keep things on track. However, they have other things to compete with other than their fellow thespians.
Night Skies has the worst usage of green screen that I’ve seen since A Sound of Thunder. You’ll watch. You’ll see. You’ll laugh. If you can get past all of that, there’s still one other thing to contend with — the useless and ill timed jump scares. If even one of these catch you, please stop watching horror movies and go buy the new Yanni Sings DVD.
Does it sound like I’m being a bit harsh? I know I am. Care to know why? Because these needless shortcomings (especially the throng of jump scares) take away from some of the most intense alien sequences I’ve seen in quite some time. F/X artist Jerry Macaluso has created some truly memorable creatures for us to gawk at in wonder. There’s barely any cheapo CGI to be found here. The aliens are comprised mostly of truly kickass physical effects that are downright disturbing. Mark my words. Should you see this film, you will not forget the last ten minutes of Night Skies. It’s as creepy as anything I’ve seen.
That’s why the bad stuff is all the more annoying. One would hazard to say that at times it seems as if we’re watching two completely different movies. Make no mistake, Night Skies is not a great film, but man, do the creature effects help to push this one over the top to score way higher than it would have otherwise.
And what of the DVD extras? Since this was based on actual events (which there is ample existing footage of), there should be something to look at here, right? Wrong. We get nothing. Other than a glimpse at some home video footage of the lights during the movie’s end credits and the opening that features snippets of a John McCain press conference, there’s zilch provided concerning the phenomenon. Instead we have a trailer gallery for more Sony titles. Joy.
Under all of the shortcomings, cliches, and mediocrity, there’s a very good film hiding here. Can you stomach the bad to get to the good? My advice is to pop in the DVD and start consuming mass amounts of alcohol, or indulge in other types of party favors while watching. That should help to considerably dull the pain. Just watch your intake. We don’t want anyone seeing their own lights, whether they be in the sky or in the bathroom while praying to the great and mighty porcelain god.
Sony trailer gallery
3 out of 5
1/2 out of 5
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