Review by Sean Boelman
Perhaps in an attempt to recapture the lighting in a bottle that was The Blair Witch Project, filmmaker Daniel Myrick (without the help of co-director Eduardo Sanchez) returns to mockumentary territory with the UFO picture Skyman. Unfortunately, lacking in any real conflict and emotion, this movie is mostly a bore.
The film follows a man who, after experiencing an alien encounter when he was ten years old, dedicates himself to proving the existence of extraterrestrial beings, hoping to reconnect with the same UFO at the same location. This isn’t the first time a found footage movie (or the like) has centered around aliens, nor will it be the last, but one almost wishes that filmmakers would give up on the dying gimmick.
Myrick structures the film as if it is a documentary following the protagonist as if he was a real person. But since so many movies have since tried to replicate the success of The Blair Witch Project, this device no longer lends as much authenticity to a story as it once would. And though Myrick was the person to popularize it, this film would have worked so much better without these conventions holding it back.
There are some really interesting character arcs here, but they are largely left underdeveloped. Instead, the imposed perspective of this faux filmmaker almost gives a tone of mocking disbelief. It always feels like we aren’t meant to take the protagonist seriously, sometimes even to the point where the movie almost seems to be making fun of him.
Michael Selle, in his feature debut, gives a solid performance, bringing a lot of humanity to a role that is otherwise a caricature. And unlike most other found footage movies, there aren’t any scares (or attempts thereof) to fall back on. It is completely reliant on Selle’s performance to ground the film, and even then, it barely works.
Fans of the genre will be used to the slow-burn pacing here, but this movie does too little to excite in the interim, and the ending is even more obvious than usual. Perhaps the biggest issue of all is that the film is lacking in bite. The movie seems so afraid of doing anything that would be even the least bit edgy or provocative.
Obviously, Myrick has an understanding of how to tell a story in this way, so everything about the film looks fine. That said, one expects a movie about the extraterrestrial to do something more. There should, at the least, be a sense of wonder. That feeling is largely missing here, which keeps it from having as much of an effect as it should.
Skyman is a very disappointing film in many ways, especially given the talent of its filmmaker. This seems destined to get lost in a genre full of mediocre movies all of which owe themselves to the work of its director.
Skyman opens in drive-in theaters on June 30 and hits VOD on July 7.