REVIEW: Phoenix Forgotten
– By LastBoneStands
Some readers of The Slaughtered Bird may know that I am one of the hosts of The What Cast podcast, a show primarily about the weird things in life (UFOs, ghosts, etc.). In fact, there is a link to our website on the homepage of The Slaughtered Bird, go ahead and check it out. I’ll wait…
Okay, so now that you’ve listened to all 180 some-odd episodes, it’s clear that I’m a massive UFO enthusiast and like to talk about them. I’ve also mentioned several times that I am a sucker for found footage films. I’m sure you can all imagine how excited I was to check out Phoenix Forgotten.
For those that have no idea about the Phoenix Lights, let me provide a bit of a background. On the night of March 13, 1997 thousands of witnesses reported seeing strange lights in the sky from the Nevada state line, through Phoenix and Tucson, AZ and Sonora, Mexico. The bulk of them even took place over the skies of Phoenix where several witnesses claimed to see a gigantic V-shaped craft that was over half a mile wide, which had lights set into the underside. There was conflicting reports from the Air Force, both stating that they had no jets in the area and later claiming they were testing flares in the sky. The Former Governor of Arizona, Fife Symington, first joked about it, but later admitted to witnessing the event himself, claiming that the joke was to help ease the tension felt by the community.
This isn’t a history lesson of the Phoenix Lights, but I wanted to provide a little bit of background to lend some context to the film. Phoenix Forgotten is not your typical found footage film. With most films in this sub-genre, we are treated to an edited version of events that were found on some camera, somewhere spooky. With Phoenix Forgotten we have found footage within a documentary. Sophie Bishop (Florence Hartigan) has set out to create a documentary centering on the disappearance of her brother, Josh, shortly after the Phoenix Lights event. The documentary consists of her retelling memories of her older brother, as well as interviews with witnesses who experienced the event, her parents, and the parents of her brother’s friends that disappeared with him. Cut between these interviews, we get clips from her brother’s camera as he was trying to uncover what the lights were. The documentary parts were pretty straight forward stuff that you’d see in any documentary, but what the original footage, shot by Josh, uncovers is much less conventional.
The film itself does not offer much in the way of scares, and does not provide a satisfying explanation of the events that led to the disappearance of Josh and his friends. There is some entertainment to be found here, however. If viewed as a childhood investigative adventure with a tragic end, it might be more enjoyable. Even more so, if you remember the event that the film depicts. As a teen at the time of this event, I think I would have also wanted to investigate deeper into the phenomenon, had I lived in Arizona at the time. This may have shaped my bias when viewing Phoenix Forgotten.
This is not a film that everyone would enjoy, even fellow suckers, err, I mean fans of the found footage genre. There isn’t much in the way of building dread, and the climax comes almost out of nowhere, and then, that’s it. There is no further explanations or even speculation. Climax occurs, film ends.
For those wanting things wrapped up, nice and neat, or those that like the little cliff hangers that tease a potential sequel, you may not enjoy the end. I will say, I enjoyed this film more than Alien Abduction, which was a similar tale of people spotting lights and dealing with what’s behind those lights. So, at least that’s something, right?