An interesting take on the events surrounding the worldwide phenomenon of the infamous “Phoenix lights”, and how those events changed the lives of three teens forever, “Phoenix Forgotten” was a surprising film. Funnily enough, the “based on true events” headline isn’t referencing the missing teens – but the mysterious floating lights. While the floating lights in the sky did actually happen, the missing teenagers part was completely crafted for the sake of this movie. Yes, for those not familiar with the Phoenix lights, the least realistic part of the film is actually the part based on true events.
Here we have another documentary style horror film, much like “The Bay” or “The Last Exorcism”, shot completely as a “found footage” movie. While the final minutes of the film are typical found footage shots of the teens running around with a camcorder, the majority of the film is a documentary being filmed by one of the missing teen’s sister. While I’m not a fan of found footage horror movies for the most part, I have discovered that I am partial to this documentary style sub-genre. Whether it’s because my reasoning center of my brain tells me, “Okay, they’re filming a documentary. So there’s a reason for them to be filming,” or because documentary filmmakers know how to hold a camera without inducing motion sickness, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it’s something I’ve learned about myself. I actually enjoy a minuscule sub-genre of found footage horror movies.
The build-up of the movie is quite enjoyable. Mostly we see the archived news footage of the Phoenix lights and the subsequent interviews, followed by backstories of the three teens. We learn one of the teens was actually the one who filmed the infamous Phoenix lights footage, and he and two others embark on a journey to the desert to track down the source of the floating lights. The sister of one of the missing teens follows the trail of her brother and uncovers a military cover-up around his disappearance. She stumbles upon the tape her brother was recording the night they went missing, and ultimately reveals the footage to us, the audience. In it, we plainly see flying spacecraft using anti-gravity technology of some kind to basically rip the teens from the ground and into the ships. The camcorder falls to the ground and the contents get mailed to a school, (the camcorder was school property), where upon the sister of the missing teen finds it.
While the story itself is enjoyable, I can’t say that it’s scary. This would probably fall more on the drama side of horror than the scary side. Given the majority of the film is basically a documentary, and aside from the very end we only see a budding teen love triangle with alien stuff happening around them, you could almost say this was a sci-fi drama. I would not recommend watching this if you’re looking for a scary movie, or even a light horror movie to watch with friends. This is probably one you’ll find yourself watching alone on a boring Sunday afternoon. The acting was pretty good and the story is original, but it doesn’t have the right tone to scratch that horror movie itch.
This movie is…
I can’t recommend this as a horror movie. Teen drama, maybe.
Cheers and goodnight.