Movie Review: The Sky Has Fallen (2009)

Action, drama, Horror, Movie Reviews

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The zombie sub-genre, for me, got stale very fast.  While I enjoy a good zombie flick, my motivation for seeking out new ones out is pretty low at this point.  However, The Sky Has Fallen isn’t just another throwaway zombie film; there’s a lot more going on here than basic survival in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by the undead, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Winner of Best Feature at the 2009 Freak Show Horror Film Festival and Best Horror Feature at the 2009 Indie Gathering Film Festival, as well as  nominated for Best FX at the 2012 Maverick Movie Awards, Doug Roos’ The Sky Has Fallen is a feature deserving of its accolades.  Furthermore, the fact that it’s all practical effects is sure to make it even more appealing to horror fans.  However, as good as the practical effects are (and believe me, they’re good), The Sky Has Fallen’s main strengths lie in its characters and story; both of which are well-developed and interesting.

A post-apocalyptic love story which is heavy on both drama and horror, The Sky Has Fallen follows Lance (Carey McLaren) and Rachel (Laurel Kemper); 2 strangers who meet through unfortunate circumstance, who must battle their way through the wilderness against swarms of the undead. Sound too familiar?  Well, it isn’t.  These zombies are merely puppets used for killing by a more sinister force – a mysterious clan of shadowy figures with extraordinary abilities, which happen to include raising the dead and controlling them at their whim.

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The Sky Has Fallen is a beautifully haunting story, aided by a fantastic original score which enhances its emotional impact.  Of course, without characters to root, there would be no emotional impact whatsoever, and Kemper and McLaren do a great job playing the protagonists, while possessing an on-screen chemistry which makes their relationship and quest for survival one worth rooting for – and gives the story a very human core.  If that sounds off-putting to horror fans looking for blood and guts then fear not; the best thing about this movie is how refreshingly original it is, but it never shy’s away from being gruesome when the opportunity arises.  And it’s glorious.

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By stripping things back, The Sky Has Fallen goes far.  It’s a low-budget, character driven story, rich in texture and ambitious in its storytelling.  It applies the ethos of classic Kurowasa samurai movies to modern post-Apocalyptic horror to create a haunting, yet compelling story of mystery, violence, action, loss and love – with plenty of zombies, mysterious horrors and red stuff thrown in for good measure. This is a great piece of independent filmmaking I urge you all to support. You can find a copy HERE.  8/10

Written & Directed By:

Doug Roos

Starring:

Carey MacLaren, Laurel Kemper, Corey Knisely

Genre:

Horror, Drama, Action

Running Time:

73 min

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Article: 5 Sequels That Need To Happen….

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It would be easy for me to sit here and vent my frustrations about franchises producing sequel after sequel for monetary gain at the expense of quality; but the Hellraiser franchise is a prime example of just that and I love every movie up until Revelations more than my own family, so I’ll steer clear of sounding like a broken record of the film fan community, who are tired of the regurgitating franchises they continue to support and encourage.  I’m guilty of it myself too: as much as I’m absolutely disheartened by the Saw series as much as its creators are of its mundane existence, I can choose to not see it and watch something better.  However, I will be the first person in the theatre seeing Furious 7 when it’s released in April, handing over my money willingly and feeding the corporate machine.

The fact is, it’s easy to complain about sequels, much the same as it is to complain about remakes.  One can argue that the state of the industry is cluttered with too much of both, and to an extent I agree with it.  But as long as we support them, they’ll keep happening.  And sometimes we enjoy them – as good as originality is, enjoying a movie regardless is better.  I’d love to see the backing and promotion a Saw movie receives given to an up and coming indie masterpiece or trashy monster caper.  It’d be nice to see Gareth Evans with an Expendables resources to go out and make the biggest and baddest action movie ever.  But, the truth is: it doesn’t matter.  People are quick to use more sequels to stale franchises to point out what’s bad about cinema; but let’s not forget, when a franchise is on fire, it leaves us wanting more.  I genuinely hope that there’s another 700 Fast & The Furious movies.

However, let us also remember that some sequels have been essential to beautiful storytelling: Nolan’s Batman trilogy is an example of that, as is Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.  If either of those franchises didn’t wrap up conclusively, I’d have cried myself to sleep to this very day.  In fact: I’d probably be dead right now, having died of a broken heart.  Some sequels are necessary to enhance a story, and some are just pure fun.  Who doesn’t love seeing Freddy repeat himself? Who doesn’t welcome a rewritten psychological thriller with Cenobites just to be marketed as a Hellraiser? Who doesn’t enjoy Vin Diesel trash cars?  And – more importantly – who doesn’t like seeing good stories told fully?

This article will discuss the movies I want to see sequels to personally: this is only a written extension of my desires.  It’s highly plausible that none of them will ever see the light of day; but I have limited it to five that could, maybe… just MAYBE… make it on to the screen one day.

1 – Dredd (2012)

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Despite screenwriter Alex Garland saying that Dredd 2 is unlikely, the world isn’t prepared to give up hope just yet.  On a production budget of 45 million, Dredd only managed to rake in about 60 million; but that’s including both worldwide box office and domestic video sales.  I’m unaware of the domestic video sales worldwide, but I’m sure it was adequate since everybody fucking loved this movie.  However, the general consensus is that it performed poorly, so a sequel might never happen.

Of course, Dredd might find itself subject to another reboot with others at the helm; the 2012 version was independently financed and consisted of a B list cast.  With comic book properties a usual sure fire box office smash, I could see a studio buy the rights, bring in a name director and cast The Rock, so never say never.  But Karl Urban was fantastic as the big guy and I want to see that guy shoot people.

2 – Hellboy 3

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The thought of Hellboy 3 never happening is the equivalent of a world without The Dark Knight Rises, Return of the King or a new series of Twin Peaks.  Remember all that crap I talked about closure earlier?  Well this is a prime example of that.  Hellboy 2: The Golden Army teased a turn to the dark side for our big horny hero, as well as his imminent fatherhood.  My point being: it was building up to something freaking huge.  It had an ongoing narrative that’s just been left dangling in the air like an old man’s wrinkly balls on a nudest beach.  If this doesn’t happen, I’ll march.  Oh, I’ll march.  All the way to my bedroom to cry into a pillow.

What’s keeping it back is the lack of popular demand to justify the budget needed for a third; although the first 2 were financially successful at the box office and home video, they didn’t perform well enough for the studio to give Del Toro an Avengers budget, basically.  Fuck Avengers.

Again, never say never.  But prepare for never.  For the world is a cruel place.

3 – Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)

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The possibility of Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer 2 is very much alive and well: according to Jon Knautz, the wonderful man who gave us this amazing horror comedy, he does plan to make it some day.  If you watch the movie you can see that it’s a precursor to an ongoing story; most of the movie sets up the character discovering his new role in life as a monster slayer, and the movie ends with him about to go on to bigger things.  So, it probably will happen. And the delay makes sense to allow the character to age for the next instalment.

Jon Knautz, however, has this nasty little habit of being an incredibly imaginative filmmaker who keeps making amazing movies.  He makes movies we all enjoy and hasn’t repeated himself once.  Seriously though, we need more directors like Jon – but we also need more Jack Brooks.

4 – Deep Rising (1998)

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Let’s be honest, the potential sequel to Deep Rising is as dead in the water as the doomed hijackers who fell pray to the sea creatures in the original movie.  Despite it’s cult classic legacy, it just didn’t perform well enough because cinema goers aren’t as into sea monsters as they should be.  What sucks is that it set up perfectly for a sequel, but it was never to be.  Famke Janssen is still hot to this day though.

5 – House of Re-Animator

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It’s a horrible world we’re living in right now when horror icons such as Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna and can’t get any new projects up and running.  The 4th instalment of Gordon and Yuzna’s demented Re-Animator series has been stuck in development hell longer than I’ve been stuck on hoping that it happens.  I am a huge fan of this series and the men who brought it to life, so it breaks my heart to think we’ll never see it with the original cast and crew ever again.  Of course, it’s a guaranteed certainly for a remake one day; but what I wouldn’t give for one last swansong with Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West, and Gordon or Yuzna behind the camera.

So, there’s my 5 most wanted sequels.  What are some of yours?