2018 | DIR: FULVIO SESTITO | STARRING: RYAN CARNES, JORDAN HINSON, CLAUDE DUHAMEL, DON STARK, MARTIN SENSMEIER, MILTON CHEE, PETER STORMARE, DEE WALLACE | REVIEW BY CHRIS THOMPSON
As far as Chris is concerned it’s complete bunkum, so he sets off with his camera operator, Brent (Claude Duhamel) to the heartland of UFO believers; a convention somewhere near Roswell, New Mexico. Here he meets Emily Reed (Jordan Hinson) who claims that every seven years since her seventh birthday, aliens have come for her and spirited her away for experiments before returning her to Earth (it’s as though an outer-space Michael Apted is making an extra-terrestrial version of 7 Up). Of course, Emily is about to have her 28th birthday, so Chris decides to tag along, despite her initial poor impression of him, and record what happens.
What follows is a series of strange and ominous encounters, firstly with Bill (Don Stark) the overly friendly (not fooling us for a minute!) convention organiser, and then with the slightly kooky Lucille (a great little cameo from Dee Wallace) who has in her possession what she claims to be an alien artefact. Then, when Chris and Brent are out on a lonely desert road at night their car hits something (or did something hit their car?). When they pull over to check it out, Brent thinks he sees aliens coming for them, but Chris is still not convinced. It’s a good, scary moment as Brent tries to get the hell out of there while Chris tries to stay firm in his scepticism. Of course, the audience is not in much doubt about what we think they saw, but this is a film where not everything is as it seems, and maybe there’s a trick or two up Sestito’s sleeve that we haven’t guessed.
This is a well made and tight little film that for most of its narrative keeps us engaged and, to a certain extent, curious to know what will happen next. Sestito directs with confidence and restraint and the screenplay by Marc Porterfield and Thomas Warren (from a story by Sestito, Warren and Rebecca Berrih) is well paced and full of interesting characters. Despite Chris and Emily being on opposite sides of the alien abduction debate, there’s a sweet little romance that slowly builds between them and as we get closer to Emily’s 28th birthday we can see that Chris is concerned for her even if he doesn’t quite believe her story. There’s a bit of a strange and unnecessary tangent late in the day when Emily leads Chris and Brent to a local Native American leader, John Greatbear (Milton Chee) who conducts a peyote ceremony that gives the filmmakers the opportunity for some hallucinatory effects but not much in the way of narrative progress. This scene stalls the story for a bit, but fortunately, things get back on track before too long and we find ourselves in a good place again in time for the climax. I don’t want to give away what happens next, suffice to say there’s a big change of gear and the film opens up to some great production design and art direction by Kino Scialabba and Traci Hays respectively.
Carnes and Hinson are good together as the two main characters on opposing sides of the central premise and the rest of the cast are uniformly strong with the highlights being the brief appearances by the three more seasoned actors – Don Stark, Peter Stormare and the ubiquitous Dee Wallace. But rest assured, they don’t overwhelm the younger actors. Instead they provide a strong underpinning for the more youthful, fresh-faced performances that make up the bulk of the movie.
Beyond the Sky is both an entertaining, enjoyable ride through some of the quirky landscape of UFO culture and a sweet little romance where our heroes have to face a few challenges that are (excuse the terrible pun) out of this world.
BEYOND THE SKY is released on DVD via Eagle Entertainment on 11/09/2019.