Plot: The skies above Phoenix, Arizona were quite a sight one night in 1997, when strange, unexplained lights and aircraft were seen by numerous people, for miles around. Of course, official reports dismissed the lights as flares and joked about the potential of an alien presence. But one family also experienced a terrifying low flying aircraft that scared them half to death and while they weren’t sure what it was, it certainly didn’t look like a jet or commercial plane. Josh (Luke Spencer Roberts) saw both events and couldn’t stop thinking about them, to the point he took a camera and tried to find some answers. He recruited help from a couple friends and conducted interviews, as well as visiting sites that were connected to the lights. The three would go missing one night and while investigations were done, they were never located and the truth about their disappearance was never learned. But if the tapes could be found, would they hold the key to what happened?
Entertainment Value: Phoenix Forgotten is a found footage movie, but it leans more on sci/fi than horror, which helps the movie stand out a little. So instead of witches or ghosts, this film focuses in on aliens and roots the narrative in the real events known as the Phoenix Lights. I do like how the movie’s found footage elements have an authentic look, as that alone makes it better than a lot of found footage movies. The footage was shot on modern digital cameras, then converted to VHS, which allowed for the inherent flaws of the format to shine through in the final version. The end result is effective and elevates those scenes, I think. The movie has a slow pace, but it does use the time to fill in background and isn’t just people talking at a camera for no reason. At the same time, this isn’t a lot of fun to watch and while it does pay off toward the finale, the road to that point is a drawn out walk. I did appreciate the performances, which are often a step above the typical found footage movie, while the finale does deliver and closes things on a high note. So it is on the slow side, but at least the ride ends with some thrills, right? I can’t give the movie a high recommendation, but for fans of found footage, it makes a passable rental.
No nakedness. This one has zero sexual or even romance elements, so there’s never a chance for sleaze to appear. The only blood is a couple of nosebleeds and that’s not an issue, since there’s no violence involved. This is more sci/fi than horror, so the need for gore just never arises. The special effects work well, in part due to a lot of the flaws being masked by the low-fi visuals. A cheap trick perhaps, but this is found footage, so it makes sense. The dialogue is fine, but doesn’t bring a lot to the table. The interactions seem mostly natural and some of the interviews are quite believable, but none of it yields memorable lines or quotable banter. No real craziness to speak of, aside from the finale, which runs a little off the rails. A straight forward found footage movie that adheres to most of the conventions.
Overall Insanity: 1/10