Starring Troy Baker, Yuri Lowenthal, Travis Willingham, Liam O’Brien
Directed by Keith Arem
In 1997 over the skies of Phoenix, Arizona, one of the single most incredible UFO sightings occurred and was witnessed simultaneously by more people than any other. To this day no one has been able to offer a reasonable explanation as to what these things could have been. Keith Arem’s film The Phoenix Incident is a fictitious account of what may or may not have happened that one truly historic evening.
Let’s face it… found footage movies? Yeah, they’ve run their course and then some, but Arem’s film is told masterfully through the usage of actually event footage, news footage, static cameras, and of course mounted and handheld cameras. The film never feels forced and, more importantly, isn’t 100% shaky-cam bullshit that we’ve all grown so very tired of. This flick is a ride and a half.
In a nutshell The Phoenix Incident tells the tale of a group of friends who head out into the desert, never to be seen again. Throw in a truly frightening cultist psychopath, breathtaking air battles, and some of the coolest looking aliens in recent memory; and you’ve got a winning formula for one hell of a good time.
Arem made his bones working on such huge video game franchises as Call of Duty and Saints Row, and his days of creating bombastic set pieces has certainly paid off for this first-time filmmaker. Staying true to his gaming roots, the film’s cast boasts an impressive list of gaming voice actors including Troy Baker (Last of Us, BioShock Infinite), Yuri Lowenthal (Prince of Persia, Sunset Overdrive), Travis Willingham (Evolve, Critical Role), and Liam O’Brien (World of Warcraft, League of Legends); and these cats dish out the goods physically as well as vocally.
The story is as fleshed out and believable as possible, but what takes center stage here is the alien action, and this baby delivers tenfold. Arem isn’t gun-shy about showing off his creations, and as soon as they’re loose, they bring a great deal of hell with them.
The Phoenix Incident is a thought-provoking and frightening account of an already scary event. Brimming with full throttle, adrenaline-fueled frights, it’s easily one of the best of its kind and serves as a testament that with a little ingenuity and a lot of talent, even the most tired of sub-genres can come kicking back to life.