Plot: Chris (Ryan Carnes) has always had a dubious outlook on the existence of aliens, as he watched his parents’ marriage collapse as his father tried to blame all of his problems on alien abductions. As an adult, he works as a documentary filmmaker and intends to use his acquired skills to settle the matter once and for all, to prove that stories of alien abduction are falsified. Of course, his drive is a personal one that colors his perspective, but he feels that if he can finally put the matter to rest, perhaps he can move on from his troubled past. As he interviews alien aficionados at a convention in Roswell, New Mexico, Chris encounters Emily (Jordan Hinson), who claims she has been taken more than once. She says the aliens have arrived every seven years, on her birthday and with the next expected visit a few days off, Chris tags along to document what he thinks he will be a false alarm. But is Emily’s story just a made up fantasy or will Chris discover things aren’t quite what he assumed?
Entertainment Value: This one has a narrative we’ve seen before, as a skeptic seeks to disprove a phenomenon, but I do appreciate that Chris’ personal stake in the search for the truth makes it a little fresher. In most cases when someone seeks out the truth, they come from a perspective of wanting to believe, so it is a nice change of pace, even if the overall story seems familiar. So perhaps Beyond the Sky is a little predictable, but it works and veers off the alien abduction thread often enough to mix things up, with a light romance blended in as well. The material has ample sci/fi elements of course, especially as Chris and Emily narrow in on the truth, but when the focus is on the characters and how their relationship develops is a highlight here. That said, I wish even more time was invested into that dynamic, as what little time is spent there pays off, but it is glossed over too much. There are also some found footage style scenes that help mix things up, which is quite welcome here. In the end, Beyond the Sky isn’t a UFO classic, but it is solid and for fans of indie sci/fi, well worth a peek.
As I said above, I appreciated when the movie devoted time to Chris and Emily’s bond, as I think that was the film’s strongest element. The finale is a spectacle with some terrific special effects, but the characters remained the real draw. But the movie does tend to shift focus when possible, which is a shame, as the dynamic between the two is interesting and the chemistry is rock solid. What little time is put into the development proves to be effective, so I wish that was where the film chose to spend most of its time, but that’s not the case. The performances are solid from the lead, perhaps not great, but a cut above what you might expect. Ryan Carnes is able to convey the light obsession and weariness the role requires, while Jordan Hinson tends to steal the show, as the perky and eccentric Emily. I think the two work well together and have solid chemistry, though as I’ve said, they’re not given enough of a chance to develop that connection. This one also has small, but memorable roles from Dee Wallace and Peter Stormare to punch up the material, while the cast also includes Claude Duhamel, Don Stark, Jodie Bentley, and Katherine Taylor.
The Disc: RLJE Films has issued Beyond the Sky on Blu-ray, giving us a colorful, refined presentation that looks much better than most of the film’s indie peers. The image is super sharp and shows terrific detail, though the found footage elements step back a little, as expected. The colors are bright and bold, especially in the vibrant finale, while contrast is right on the mark. The disc’s extras include interviews with UFO experts to shed a little more light on the phenomenon.