Most documentaries are usually biographical, historical, or political taking one into the center of a particular topic. In the case of The Phoenix Incident however, the film uses the genre to entertain while tying in with an actual event. This sometimes works to a high degree, especially subjects that threaten extinction like the atom bomb, space junk and earthquakes. UFO sightings have been an ongoing subject for years with most of the evidence hidden from the public labeling them as scientific anomalies or military exercises. The Phoenix Incident takes the subject of alien sightings and possible abduction a step further citing an actual happening that the filmmakers say was a cover up.
It’s 1997 and on March 13th a weird event occurred and labeled the Phoenix Lights. It was a massive sighting of triangular shapes in the darkened sky that resembled what one would think to be alien space ships. Not just a single sighting by a handful of people, but a spectacle witnessed by thousands. Unexplained, the proof of the incident is in the film footage by those who brought it forth from home cameras.
But, this is where actuality ends and a fictionalized account of what happened during the sightings begins. On the night of the Phoenix Lights four men went missing, Mitch Adams, Ryan Stone, Glenn Lauder and Jacob Reynolds and never a trace was found of their bodies. It’s this unsolved case that gives fuel to the possibility that they may have been abducted that night by the occupants of the UFOs. Using military footage of that night and eyewitness accounts, the film explores a fictional account of what may have happened.
The movie follows the four missing men played by Troy Baker as Ryan Stone, Travis Willingham as Mitch Adams, Yuri Lowenthal as Glenn Lauder and Liam O’Brien as Jacob Reynolds as they follow the lights in the dessert on their ATVs. Shot at night using light sensitive cameras, the production gets quite scary in the tone of the film Cloverfield. Director Keith Arem, noted for his video games Deadpool, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Call to Duty and many more, takes his audience on a wild ride through the Arizona desert leading to a fight for life.
For entertainment the fictional account makes for a good thriller and for that The Phoenix Incident achieves its purpose. Beyond that, the documentary opening and the facts it provides becomes an informational movie on which audiences can get more detail about the Phoenix Lights and the military cover-up. While most people believe that we’ve been visited by aliens, this film adds fuel to their fire that possibly there’s more to come. In the meantime keep those binoculars and movie camera’s handy because you may be the next person to be an eyewitness to the future.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Documentary part of the film (C ), entertaining fictionalized account of the four missing men (B ).
Additional Film Information:
Cast: Troy Baker, James L. Brewster, James C. Burns, Travis Willingham, Yuri Lowenthal, Liam O’Brien
Directed and Written by: Keith Arem
Genre: Documentary, Sci-fi, Thriller
MPAA Rating: Not Rated,Not Rated, contains disturbing images, violence and language
Running Time: 1 hr. 22 min.
Release Date: April 8, 2016
Distributed by: PBC Entertainment