Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: The Sky Has Fallen

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2013
Images from the Internet

The Sky Has Fallen: Limited Edition
Written, photographed, produced, directed and edited by Doug Roos           
80 minutes, 2009
Lost Forever Productions

Rachel: Aren’t you afraid?
Lance: Of what?
Rachel: Dying? Being tortured? Suffering?

This multi-award winning film shows a post-apocalyptic world gone crazy. A disease has killed off most of the population of the world, but it gets worse than that: the disease has mutated into these black hooded demons who stich up the dead and use the corpuses to kill or capture live people. Yeah, like zombies, but they mostly just kill, rather than make the living lunch. That is essentially the film’s opening narrative in the first minute.

The focus of the story is a rather too neat and clean man and woman whose make-up is always perfect, who meet while hiding in the woods of Missouri (though it could be anywhere) a few months after the start of the whole shebang. They decide to go find the leader of the black robed ones (who, apparently, wears a white robe and black bones sticking out of its back). He uses a samurai sword and she, a handgun that doesn’t run out of bullets, unless it is part of the storyline.

Meanwhile, they are besieged by not only many blood and goo-covered people who have sharp instruments for hands, but the robed ones who apparently can be killed by both sword or gun. Then there are the nightmares produced by them so you are not sure what is real.

Sounds great, right? Well, the premise is unique, but the writing… Almost all the dialog, which is 90% between the two main characters, tries to sound like Before Sunrise (1995), but comes across incredibly stilted. Almost all questions are answered with questions, and it is rare that a character says more than one sentence in a row, almost always in a monotone.

Ideally, I would have liked to have seen Roos work up the story and get someone else help with the dialog. I mean, the two leads, Lance (Carey MacLaren) and Rachel (Laurel Kemper) are fetching and with the near constant and repeating soaring music as a serenade, the viewer should care about them, but it’s nearly impossible as they mostly stoically line-by-line tell their stories in slices, bits and pieces.

Being Roos’ first (and so far only) feature, this is obviously a learning experience. HH He knows that close-ups make more sense on a low budget, and he does employ that. The film actually looks pretty good, in part to the use of appliances rather than CGI. There is definitely a lot of “moist” going on throughout. There are also some really beautiful shots of backlighting, and editing is tight (though sometimes too quick),

The make-up is pretty well done, and a bit different than your usual gray-green undead being, I am grateful to say. Sometimes the flying blood is a bit much, but again, learning experience. It’s also pretty amazing that the main characters don’t get much of the red on them (in additional to what we see when we are first introduced to them).

I hope Roos gets to make more films, because for a first release, this is a respectable start.

Tacked on are a decent series of “Behind the Scenes” shorts (how about a “show all” to go with it?), and two others about special effects applications. This may not be a film I watch over and over, but I am glad to have had the opportunity to see some decent first steps.


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