The Sky Has Fallen (2009)
Directed by Doug Roos
Indie horror is where ingenuity and creativity still lives. What filmmakers have to do when they have a limited budget is quite amazing. Think Sam Raimi with Evil Dead.
Doug Roos makes the most out of what he's got with The Sky Has Fallen. A simple wilderness setting, practical makeup and splatter effects, 2 main characters and a boatload of dialogue.
It's a testament to the indie spirit of making YOUR movie the way you want which is what Doug Roos and his team did. As for the movie, it is what it is as well.
The Sky Has Fallen is post apocalyptic, diseased ravaged mutant zombie movie with elements of The Road and Versus thrown in. It reminded me of Ink, a childhood fantasy movie come to life with its HD-ishiness and its dreamy special effects. But at the end of the day, it suffers from the limitations of being low budget. Everything I mentioned from the boring woods to the heavy dialogue makes it at times a yawnfest.
But the back to basics effects are a saving grace and the ambition to make a different kind of zombie movie makes The Sky Has Fallen something interesting to watch.
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.
The first thing you'll notice is the movie is shot in tight closeups. As Roos mentions on the special features of the DVD, it's done this way because wider shots didn't come out all too well. But I have to argue we need a few long shots when watching a film because even the casual viewer gets vertigo watching something close up as our eyes are just not use to watching close ups all the time.
Our main protags, Lance and Rachel have suffered horrific hardships as this disease has ravaged mankind. Seems we don't just get no eyes no mouth zombies, we also get mutated, black cloaked demon like creatures as the disease evolves. As Lance and Rachel go all Fellowship of the Ring determined to kill the leader of this new mutation, they encounter other survivors including a priest and a dad and his kids.
However, the encounters all are with the black cloaked figures, zombie creatures and the leader who now invades their dreams. The movie seems like it's more of a horror fantasy rather than a straight "according to Hoyle" zombie film. Evolving demons are the main adversary and they are on a mission to make all of humanity suffer.
Most of the scenes are conversations between Lance and Rachel discussing a variety of their past lives and the budding romance between the 2. The 2 actors do a good job with their performances but the dialogue could have been more interesting. If it had, I'd have praised it for being better than your run of the mill zombie movie. But it's unfortunately not.
But the breakthrough performance here is the effects. The zombie makeup is quite extraordinary as closeups of the horde are so disgustingly awesome. Sure you get your blood splatter on a tree effect, (it's the most reliable camera trick). Top notch makeup and effects here.
The action scenes are all tight shots of gun shot penetration and slice and dice woundage. Splatter and gore are shown sporadically. It's a good effect but I got kind of bored by it. I don't need tons of splatter even in zombie movie. A couple of wide shots I believe could have worked here.
I know this is a big gripe but 70% of the movie is done with tight shots and closeups and it gave me a headache. I'm sure there was a way to shoot it with a few wider shots without it looking cheap.
Overall, the movie has a few interesting moments and does keep you guessing in its 70 minute run time. You sense Doug Roos had a complete vision in his mind but due to the challenge of low budget film making, he had to shoot and compromise with what he needed to do instead of what he wanted to do.
I've seen worse post apocalyptic zombie movies and I've seen better. The Sky Has Fallen is ambition meets reality. Sometimes reality wins.
Close up splatter (inc. sword trauma and gun shots)
The makeup effects
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
The Sky Has Fallen has won many awards and needs your help in getting distribution and marketing. You can go to the links below to support the film.
Check out the trailer below!