Cinematic Releases: Phoenix Forgotten (2017) - Reviewed

Phoenix Forgotten. I want to believe. Really, I do. 

Found footage and alien abduction go hand in hand. Over the past decade or more, audiences have been given dozens of low budget documentary style features that turn fictional encounters with otherworldly beings into horrific movies about mysterious disappearances, freakish incidents and hellish alien experiments. Luckily for us, Phoenix Forgotten seamlessly blends the Blair Witch Project type setup with a horrifying tale about a teenage trio that went missing while seeking the truth about the Phoenix lights. 

Unlike many other features in this category, this one is extremely realistic in its presentation. Told through fake archived video tapes, news reels and some standard camera work, this is definitely one of the better entries in this sub-genre. With Ridley Scott's name attached, it's really no shock that Phoenix Forgotten is a step above the rest. While many will definitely draw many comparisons to other found footage features, Phoenix Forgotten pushes fear and tension to the extreme. The last third of the film is a true testament to how these movies can still be made when there's real heart behind them. It's actually terrifying. 

Using basic visual effects, lighting, and simplistic sound design, Phoenix Forgotten definitely treads on familiar territory but is still a solid effort. The director squeezed in several nods to The X-Files while setting up scenarios that call back to classics like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Fire in the Sky. No, the movie is not an exercise in hyper creativity and it will definitely get ravaged by some for its similar context. But, the setup here feels natural and the acting is way above board for a lower budget found footage flick. 

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Nurturing several moments of absolute horror and using minimalistic effects to the furthest degree possible, Phoenix Forgotten is exactly what found footage is about. With a real world setup that shows its audience a perfect back story that's simple in its execution, 80 minute alien flick is sure to be divided down the middle. Some will love it and others will undoubtedly hate it. Considering my adoration for all movies with a shaky cam and people getting abducted by aliens, I say check this one out. But bring a flashlight.