Saturday, February 9

Some quick thoughts on The Sky Has Fallen (2009)

From the back cover: Within a couple of hours, a new disease wipes out almost all of mankind. Trying to avoid infection, people flee to remote locations, but they start seeing mysterious black figures, carrying away the dead and experimenting on them. Now, Lance and Rachel, two survivors determined to fight back, must kill the leader of these creatures before the rest of humanity disappears.

Starting off with the good, Doug Roos' debut feature The Sky Has Fallen is an absolute marvel in the lowly realm of "buy a car or make a movie" filmmaking. Working as a one-man band in everything from director to writer to editor; Roos poses an impressive technical front with work that barely ever displays budgetary strain on-screen. The filmmaker's stylish cinematography and tight editing makes for a brisk pace despite taking place entirely in an aimless expansive of woodland. The orchestral score by James Sizemore also deserves high praise. Judging by his burgeoning sound career, the composer is going places and compliments Roos' confidence often sounding so good his work could have been lifted straight from a Hollywood production.

Similar in several ways, The Sky Has Fallen is obviously a bit like Versus (2001) and even has a share of ripped up, shambolic zombies. The black hooded, featureless figures that have heralded the end of mankind appear to mutilate the living into the walking dead. Brutally disfiguring the living corpse's hands into gory stumps with crude blades sunk deep in their flesh to act as weapons upon those that possess what they once had. Our two heroes samurai slice and guns akimbo their way through hordes; all the while battling the powerful mind control techniques of their black phantom overlords by night.

But, and it's a big but, amateur leads Carey MacLaren and Laurel Kemper deliver all their lines regardless of emotion in a very somber and monotone fashion. It's unclear whether Roos intended this, and it's understandable MacLaren's sword wielding loner with something to hide having this demeanor, but even the girl he begrudgingly protects speaks like the weight of the world is on every syllable. The two briefly meet a father with two young children and again, dialogue flatlines between everyone to the point I couldn't help but snicker a little.

This inability to emote soon makes longer stretches of exchanges between the two characters a chore and you begin to wonder just how alive the living are compared to the dead. Problem is that isn't a sly bit of intentional social commentary. Though I can't totally condemn this micro-budget wonder, there's definite promise in Roos that needs more chance to bloom. Plus he's a fellow blogger with some of the same obsessions, so it's hard to see this film not being a labor of love for all the right reasons...


Doug Roos said...

Thanks for the review! I really didn't want the dialogue to be boring and monotone so sorry it came off that way. I tried to break it up with flashbacks since there was too much telling instead of showing, but it was my first film, and I wrote far too much dialogue. It was definitely a labor of love though, and I appreciate the positives you mentioned! We tried to make the best film we could, and after my next one, I plan to fix this movie up even more by cutting more dialogue and shooting new footage, etc. Anyway, thanks again!

Jayson Kennedy said...

Thanks for the compliments! Yes, trimming some dialogue here and there and adding (especially) some more action would really help. It's certainly not bad as is, but a tweaked "Ultimate Version" like that of Versus would be great. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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