RANDOM MOVIE ALERT!!!
Seriously, where do these movies come from?! No trailer, no announcement of any kind, I demand answers because I am entitled! *SARCASM*
Just kidding, but is anyone else calling “foul” on the whole “untold true events” tagline? I don’t know, y’all, it doesn’t seem to carry much weight if the main stars have an IMDb page, but I’m obviously just spit-ballin’ here. In any case, it’s another found-footage movie that looks… well, like nothing special. Even the poster looks incredibly cliché. Single scared person in footage that looks like it was from a messed up VHS tape. Can’t scare me if I’ve seen it before. Oh well.
Most of the cast is unknown, but we’ll go through a few of them anyway. Florence Hartigan (known for stuff I’ve never heard of), Luke Spencer Roberts (HAIL, CAESAR! ), Chelsea Lopez (known for stuff I’ve never heard of), Justin Matthews (TV show MAJOR CRIMES), and Clint Jordan (THE PERFECT GUY  and THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 ), among many others.
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is Justin Barber, making his feature-length debut. Congrats, sir. Barber’s partner-in-pen is T.S. Nowlin, known for THE MAZE RUNNER (2014), MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS (2015), and upcoming films MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (2018), PACIFIC RIM UPRISING (2018), and GODZILLA VS. KONG (2020). Composing the music is the Mondo Boys, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. Finally, the cinematographer is Jay Keitel, known for stuff I’ve never heard of.
Overall, I’m guessing this movie is going to be boring and cliché, but with so many unknowns and not being distributed by big-name companies, this could be better than the trailer lets on. So we’ll see.
This is my honest opinion of: PHOENIX FORGOTTEN
Based around the famous 1997 “Phoenix Lights” phenomenon in Phoenix, Arizona. In the present day, Sophie (Florence Hartigan) is making a documentary about the Phoenix Lights after new footage reaches her that was shot on a camera owned by her older brother Josh (Luke Spencer Roberts) who went missing at that time, along with two other teens, Ashley (Chelsea Lopez) and Mark (Justin Matthews).
Okay, before I get into my review, some backstory. Yes, I am aware that the “Phoenix Lights” was an actual event that happened in 1997. It’s infamous and remains a mystery to this day with a ton of controversy surrounding it. Thing is… I don’t remember that. I guess I slept through it when it happened, but I didn’t hear anything about this. I suppose I could do my research later, but for now, let’s judge the movie for what it is.
You know what this is? It’s combining the two Blair Witch movies (I’m not referring to BOOK OF SHADOWS ). How do I mean? Look at the similarities. Both are found-footage movies. 90’s footage was shot in the 90’s by an older sibling, along with other teens who went missing via supernatural events, a la THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999). Then in the present day, the younger sibling of the original cameraperson starts following the same paths to uncover secrets to find out what happened to the sibling, a la BLAIR WITCH (2016). The difference here… it’s all the same movie and it’s about as predictable, boring, and stupid as it sounds.
It even follows the same formula of PROJECT. Teens get an idea to go out to the middle of nowhere with their camera and weird shit starts to happen. Of course, give PROJECT some credit, the weird shit starts eventually. It’s not scary in the least, but it’s there in some capacity. In this movie, the weird shit doesn’t start until the final fifteen minutes. Yeah, less than an hour and a half long and the weird shit doesn’t happen until it’s basically over. So what do they fill in for the other hour and fifteen minutes? Lots of talking, of course! It’s boring as all hell!
Okay, to be fair, I saw this movie with a buddy of mine and we missed probably the first five to ten minutes of the movie. If I were to hazard a guess, we missed some atmospheric set-up. But whether or not it was good set-up, it’s clear throughout the rest of the movie that it doesn’t maintain that level of intrigue for the rest of the story. As far as the missing teens go, all they do is talk to each other about this or that, but never anything about how they’re feeling about the events they’re looking into. Okay, that’s not quite true. But again, it’s conversations you’ve heard before in the Blair Witch movies. “This is so cool, dude,” “This is creepy, dude,” “We’re gonna make history,” “What is that?” Ugh! I’m never interested in what these kids get themselves into because we never really get a sense of who they are. Josh has a crush on Ashley, but at some point gets jealous, which goes nowhere and factors into one single conversation, which again, goes nowhere and has no impact on the story.
I guess I can see where a good movie could be formed. After all, it has a foundation based on true events, even though the characters are fictional. But unlike BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, there’s an air of ambiguity at the end of the film and you don’t actually know if the Blair Witch had anything to do with what was happening to these people. Here… nope, they tell you right away that it’s aliens and the teens were abducted. While their fate is sure left a mystery, this is basically saying that the Phoenix Lights were indeed aliens, which has never been proven to be. I’m sure if I did a crap-load of research that there’d be quite a few question mark laced around the event, “aliens” has never been the 100 percent factual answer. I mean, should I take it this literal? Probably not, but for a movie that’s grounded itself in realism for so long, throwing in definitive supernatural occurrences at the last minute feels out of place.
There’s not too much to get into. It looked like it was trying to be Blair Witch with aliens, I figured it wouldn’t be good, and it wasn’t. So I’m not too upset that I was right. I’d usually dock a few points if it was ripping off good movies, but I wasn’t a fan of Blair Witch, so a bad movie ripping off another bad movie just doesn’t feel like it’s worth getting mad at. I don’t hate it, but there’s absolutely nothing to it. I don’t recommend this, either in theaters or as a rental, unless you are a die-hard fan of the Blair Witch movies and love that formula done with aliens, then maybe you’ll be okay, but I will throw you a big ole sign saying, “VIEWER BEWARE.”
My honest rating for PHOENIX FORGOTTEN: 2/5