The Sky Has Fallen (2009) Review

shfThe Sky Has Fallen (2009)

a.k.a. Zombies and Demons: Samurai Sword Apocalypse

Writer & Director: Doug Roos

Stars: Carey MacLaren, Laurel Kemper, Cory Knisely

Runtime: 73min

Out on VOD – https://www.reelhouse.org/dougroos/theskyhasfallen/

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.

With The Sky Has Fallen (TSHF) there is no messing about. We are dropped straight into the thick of it. With little knowledge of what is going on we are given scraps of information from faint echoes of old broadcasts in the opening credits, hinting towards a worldwide infection that devastated humanity almost instantaneously. This disorientation plays to the films strength. Done intentionally, as we slowly (perhaps too slowly) unravel the mystery of these zombie-like creatures and the mysterious cloaked figures that inhabit the wooded area that protagonists Lance and Rachel most explore to find the truth.

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’ venture into feature length is entertaining but not without its flaws. Originally a short film before getting the much needed funds on Kickstarter to see the dream realised.

shf1A character driven, unique and well shot piece of work no doubt, but where TSHF suffered was in the dialogue department. With the extended runtime, some lines seemed unnecessary or clichéd to pad out the middle. The intrigue lies with the mystery of the black figures, both alien and demonic in nature with an aura of magic about them, akin to 2011’s Exit Humanity. This was the unique draw of this low budget indie film with practical effects to rival that of AAA Hollywood titles, which did not get the screen time they deserved.

With an almost episodic feel, TSHF may have best been served in two halves. With more of a focus on the intriguing lore that Roos has created, (which is itself a fresh take on post-apocalyptia) and the incorporation of more survivors with their unexplained immunity to the visceral plague that annihilated humanity. Choreography was well executed and some clever use of the camera really enhanced the action where CGI was not possible. Lance (Carey MacLaren) is cast well as the disenfranchised young man who prefers to work alone but is drawn to Rachel (Laurel Kemper) who reminds him of someone he once knew, the last of his humanity lies with her.

Over the course of the film the two soften to each other, opening up about the horrors of the initial hours of the devastation. Driven to hunt out and kill the leader of the creatures, an entity capable of puppeteering the dead. Waves of contorted and disfigured monsters are thrown at Lance and Rachel in an attempt to stop them as the edge ever closer to its location. Psychological trickery and hallucinations bombard the two heroes on their quest; pushing them to both their physical and mental limits. They must stay strong to survive and conquer the evil that lurks in the forest.

shf3Doug Roos has delivered with a fine first effort into feature length. Undertaking many roles, including writer, director, producer and editor, he managed to bring it all together for an entertaining piece in an already over saturated genre.

Worth a watch.

6.5/10

Richard Martin

About Richard Martin

Lifelong enthusiast of all things macabre. Peeping through fingers since the early years, Goosebumps, Alone in the Dark, The X-files. Low budget horror was the flavour of my childhood, enjoying everything that could muster even the mildest scare in all sub genres. I continue on an almost daily basis to consume all forms of horror including movies, survival horror games, TV and the occasional novel. Horror films are mutually enjoyed by myself and my wonderful partner in crime Maeve on the weekends. Two memories really stand out; from watching 10min bursts of Screamers at 6AM for two weeks after being told I was too young. Then staying up past bedtime with the volume down low as to not wake my grandparents, soiling myself watching Event Horizon, that is what horror is all about. The morbid curiosity that runs through all of our minds is what makes horror my genre of choice.
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