Streaming Releases: Sightings (2017) - Reviewed

We’ve all heard the stories of Bigfoot or Sasquatch; the legendary tall beast that hides in the woods. No one has ever seen him, yet volumes of words have been written on the subject. Less common are phrases such as cryptozoology and cryptids. If those words sound other-worldly, then you might be interested in Dallas Morgan’s latest film, Sightings

Tom Mayfield (Boo Arnold) is on the verge of hanging up his sheriff’s star when he is called in to investigate a disturbance by his brother-in-law, Rickey (Rawn Erickson). Dimissing his brothers’ claims as a waste of his time, he takes to trying to spend time with his alienated daughter, Hannah (Tahlia Morgan). When a cache of dead bodies appears on his property, he becomes the subject of an investigation, where the results are more personal than they even realized. 

For this review, I did some deeper investigation into the phrase ‘cryptozoology’ since Mr. Morgan, who wrote his own script uses it as the basis for his story. The phrase has been around since at least 1959, it appears to have originated from the works of Bernard Heuvelmans and Ivan T. Sanderson. As a science, it is criticized for its reliance on anecdotal information rather than the scientific method. It is with this background in mind, that the characters become a bit more interesting, as each character values one side of the theory over the other side. 

The biggest believers in this film are Rebecca Otis (Stephanie Drapeau) who has been chasing down this particular cryptid for years and AkiroNagi (Dante Basco) who is a security expert happens to be familiar with Otis’ works. Hannah believes and works very hard to establish the proof throughout the film. 

Along for the ride is Detective Brendan Pitney (Kevin Sizemore) who spends most of the movie hoping that this case will get him the big promotion and Deputy Brian LeMoine (Jason J. Lewis) who has the hots for Hannah. Fortunately, the film doesn’t dwell too much on this, but the moments spent on it feel awkward and forced. 

The biggest issue with the film is that Mr. Morgan invested a little too much in the atmospherics and the look of the film. To that end, Brandon Verrett’s score is effective at using themes we’ve heard before. It offers the viewer a sense of an other-worldly adventure. The themes came too early in the start of the film making it difficult for the viewer to connect with the story. The characters are also extremely wooden. Despite this, Hannah and Akiro were the most interesting. You could tell through their performances that they wanted something more for their characters than their current lots in life, while Tom struggled with the past. 

Sightings is an interesting study in folklore, myths and family. It stretches its own limitations, but it doesn’t push any boundaries. 

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-Ben Cahlamer