In the spring of 1997, several residents of Phoenix, Arizona claimed to witness mysterious lights in the sky. This phenomenon, which became known as "The Phoenix Lights," remains the most famous UFO sighting in American history. On July 23, 1997, three high school student filmmakers went missing while camping in the desert outside Phoenix. The purpose of their trip was to document their investigation into the Phoenix Lights. They were never seen again. Twenty years later, Sarah Bishop, a documentary filmmaker and younger sibling of one of the missing, returns to Phoenix to delve into the their disappearances and the emotional trauma left on those that knew them. Nothing can prepare her for the shocking discovery of a tape from the night her brother and his friends disappeared.
Directed by: Justin Barber
. Starring: Florence Hartigan
, Luke Spencer Roberts
, Chelsea Lopez
, Justin Matthews
, Clint Jordan
, Cyd Strittmatter
, Jeanine Jackson
, Matt Biedel
, Ana Dela Cruz
, Mackenzie Firgens
, Jay Pirouznia
, Marc Marron
, Don Boyd
. Music by: Mondo Boys
So, just got out of Phoenix Forgotten and I want to put my head in boiling water. Maybe that's not the most compelling way to start off my review, but what can I say? Phoenix Forgotten isn't the most compelling movie. In fact, it's so uncompelling, I fell asleep TWICE watching it. I've never even fallen asleep once watching a film before in my life, and I've watched some pretty awful movies.
In all seriousness though, this is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. The structure is completely broken and incoherent; it starts off as half documentary and half found footage focusing on two characters for 30 minutes; Josh, who is filming a school project on recent UFO sightings in Phoenix in what will eventually become the found footage element of the film, and his sister Sophie, making a documentary about her brother's disappearance 20 years ago. The film will switch off between these 2 characters back and forth for the first act, until it goes into straight documentary for 20 minutes focusing on Sophie. Then the film abandons Sophie completely for the last 30 minutes to focus on Josh's found footage. This would have been tolerable (If irritating) if any one of these segments was engaging, compelling or scary, but none of them are.
The acting is Halloween: Resurrection levels of bad from everyone on the cast. There's SO much fake crying from the teens in "spooky" situations; where the actors and actress will scrunch up and water their eyes because they can't cry on cue, and then make their voice hysterical to get out as much fake emotion as possible. The worst offender is Chelsea Lopez as Ashley, Josh's crush. She whimpers and half-heartedly yells (NOT screams, YELLS) in desperate attempt to convince the audience they're watching "real footage", but not once did I ever feel this was a real character in real danger The adults aren't much better, I'm probably only being nicer to them cause we don't see them as much.
As for the scares? Well, if you're morbidly terrified at the thought of bright lights, nosebleeds, raining pebbles and LOUD NOISES (These noises and explosions that rock the films ending like a hurricane presumably make up most of the film's $2 million budget...I can't see it going to anything else like, I don't know, making a solid horror movie), I'm sure you'll need to sleep with the lights on. For me and everyone else at my screening though, they were just obnoxious and repetitive. They seriously shoulda just called the movie "The Spooky Lights."
This film's so bad that I couldn't help myself from loudly making fun of the movie at the film's climax, and rather than get annoyed, the rest of my screening actually laughed and cheered at me mocking it. Nobody raised their hand and said "Well, I thought it was good" or even "It wasn't that bad." Everyone was making fun of it coming out of the film and insulting its ineptitude right along with me.
It's so bad, I'm genuinely concerned it could very well be the death of found footage horror. Which really scares me (Ironic, I know) since I only SAW the film since we get so few theatrically released found footage horror films these days and I try to catch every one I can in theaters so I don't miss out. "The Blair Witch Project" this is not. "Blair Witch" this is not. And I feel sick to my stomach seeing this poorly acted, poorly structured, unscary monstrosity being so frequently compared to either.
Review by TheMovieDoctorful from the Internet Movie Database.