Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Sky Has Fallen (2009) - Zombie Horror Film Review

The Sky Has Fallen was written, produced, edited and directed by Doug Roos and has won a few awards including Best Feature at the 2009 Freak Show Horror Film Festival and Best Horror Feature at the 2009 Indie Gathering Film Festival, it was also nominated for Best FX at the 2012 Maverick Movie Awards.

One fateful night a bizarre infection sweeps the globe which decimates mankind; it turns the infected into zombie like creatures. At the same time comes the arrival of mysterious hooded figures; these sadistic killers not only hunt down the non infected but also perform sickening experiments on the dead and dying. Some months later and Lance (Carey MacLaren); a survivor is out in the woods hunting down the leader of these mysterious figures, he thinks if he can kill this one person then the madness will all end.

The Sky Has Fallen had a very different feel to it than other films of this type with an often dreamlike tone. Apart from a few flashbacks the entirity of this piece takes place out in dense woodland which while the location has a story based reason for it being where the characters are sure does save on budget. For the majority of this there are just the two characters; the brooding samurai sword wielding Lance, and Rachel (Laurel Kemper); a girl he meets who decides to team up with him on his quest. For a lot of the film there is little dialogue and plenty of action sequences, the duo are under constant attack from not only the undead but the hooded creatures. This gets into a comfortable cycle with fight scenes in the daytime, dialogue at night usually followed by dream sequences.

Mention has to go to the practical FX of which there are plenty, and wonderfully there is no CGI, not even for blood spray. Bullets thud into creatures with close ups showing the impact via squibs, limbs are cut off, heads severed, someone even gets their spine ripped out. This is one bloody film with the claret spreading everywhere. Blood is never in short supply and when the two are not fighting there is plenty of cut aways to random victims being butchered by either the ghouls or their masters. I always feel the need to mention this when it occurs but there are some scenes of children getting killed, something which is often missing in zombie films for some reason.

There are a lot of zombies here, the make up effects for them are pretty awesome looking, many are stitched up and with crude modifications done to them such as having a scythe blade stitched onto the stump of an arm, or chunks of glass sticking out the eye sockets. The hooded figures have cruel bony hands and are shown to be very powerful, snapping a wrist at one point, yet when they are dispatched they usually just stand there, their bodies substance less. A lot of the action scenes revolve around the samurai sword and reminded me loads of Michonne from The Walking Dead with Lance expertly handling the sword in fights that more resemble slow dances than fast paced encounters. There are also plenty of gun battles, though it was a bit off putting that the guns seemed to have infinite ammo.

Visually the film is a real treat, the special effects are superb and despite the wooded location the setting manages to never feel stale though variation would have been nice. Unfortunately when it comes to dialogue the problems arise. The script is pretty terrible, usually a series of unnatural sounding exchanges where neither character sounds like a real person and more like they are reading from a script, it fits with the dream like tone but with the speed and emotionless way in which the actors say their lines and the fast cuts it seems just plain weird. This isn't helped later on by some really silly and unneeded plot twists revealed via dialogue which just had me dumbfounded as to why anyone thought including them was a good idea. The films editing is different to what I'm used to also, the whole film features a lot of fast edits, usually it is only a few seconds before the shot changes leading to kinetic fast paced sequences which did get dizzying at times and left me hoping for some nice long lazy shots just to slow down the pace. I'm all for the fast edits when they are called for, but when even conversations are stuffed full of inserts and quick camera angle changes it gets slightly too much.

Saving the best till last is the wonderful score by James Sizemore, the music is simply beautiful managing to be so sorrowful and emotive throughout, loved the music and was by far the best thing about The Sky Has Fallen. In terms of plot I really liked how nothing was explained, there is no resolution as to just what or who the figures are, or why they are doing what they have done. It is inferred they could be demons, or even physical manifestations of the infection which spread the globe, and the mission Lance has set himself; to kill the figure he believes to be the leader, I love how it is never explained if it really is the leader or not.

At around 80 minutes this flew by at a rapid pace, The setting may eventually start to get bland, the characters may talk as if they are reciting lines, and the quick cuts may make you long for some slow moments but it certainly looks the part with some fantastic FX, great atmosphere, a decent enough plot, and the score is sublime. If you want to check this out for yourself head over here where the film can be purchased.



Jeremy [Retro] said...

watched it a few years ago, remember enjoying it... thanks for the solid review and now I have to track it down... watch it again!

Daniel Simmonds said...

It was different enough for sure :)