A fictional recall of the incident in Phoenix Arizona whereby a sighting of a UFO turned the city upside-down with fear on March 13, 1997 has been targeted for yet another movie. Now on DVD, Phoenix Forgotten is a pretentious tale of three lost teens who went hunting for the interplanetary vessel that may have caused the incident. Although it would have been a startling revelation, but much like The Blair Witch Project and other fictional films like 10 Cloverfield Lane, it’s just another folk tale.
That said, the production of the film is very good and the acting far better than the other films of the same ilk. The plots is very realistic and exciting the way they incorporated some of the actual events of the day the still not explained lights over Phoenix tipped the scales on UFO sightings.
In March of 1997 we find Josh (Luke Spencer Roberts) filming his 6-year-old sister Sophie’s birthday with the family video camera. Following the blowing out of the candles the family notices strange lights off in the distance in the evening sky. Filming the strange occurrence, Josh gets great footage and then more when an F-16 fighter jet creates a sonic boom as it flies close to his house.
Wanting to use the footage as part of a school project he starts to interview people on the street where he bumps into Ashley Foster (Chelsea Lopez) who finds Josh a very interesting guy. The two team up and they decide to do some investigative journalism. Not getting anywhere they make a plan that includes Josh’s best friend Mark Abrams (Justin Matthews) who has a vehicle. The idea involves going out to the dessert to try and get to the bottom of the Phoenix lights incident. When they don’t return, the police and a number of town’s people try looking for the lost teens.
Twenty years later, Sophie (Florence Hartigan) decides to revisit the incident looking for any possible physical evidence that will tell her what happened to her brother. The film goes on from there with strange results including a missing video tape that had been overlooked. Director Justin Barber keeps his film going at fever pitch drawing his audience in with actual broadcast material surrounding the Phoenix lights in the sky that night. He uses hand held cameras to depict the events leading up the disappearance as Josh films the teens on the actual quest to find the reason for the strange lights in the sky.
The film was produced by Ridley Scott and you can see from the quality that he had a bigger hand in the making of Phoenix Forgotten. The camera work, set ups and mixing are top notch for the indie film and the “surprise” quality certainly outweighs many of the paranormal films that try to spook audiences.
BONUS FEATURES: Do not watch the bonus features until you have seen the film or you will experience a lot of plot giveaways.
“Sophie’s Story” follows Sophie (Florence Hartigan) as she talks about the film in the form of an interview with the press.“Phoenix Found” Screenwriter T.S. Nowlan and Director/Writer Justin Barber talk about the movie and how it ties into the actual event. “Audio Commentary” by Justin Barber, Florence Hartigan (Sophie), Chelsea Lopez (Ashley) and Justin Matthews (Mark) do voice overs during the film to let the viewers know how the film was made. This is a good tutorial for budding filmmakers.
Phoenix Forgotten has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for terror, peril and some language. Please watch the film first before allowing immature youngsters to see it.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A nicely made mystery thriller.
Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Luke Spencer Roberts, Chelsea Lopez, Justin Matthews, Florence Hartigan.Director: Justin BarberMPAA Rating: PG-13 for terror, peril and some language.Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-fiRunning Time: 12 hr. 27 min. Video Release Date: August 1, 2017Original Theatrical Release Date: April 21, 2017Language: EnglishReviewed Format: Blu-ray (also available in DVD, and combo pack)Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1Video: Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1Subtitles: English, SpanishNumber of Discs: 2 discs in Combo Pack + Digital HDDistributed by: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
The comments within this review are the critic’s expressed opinions.