Director – Robert Lieberman
Cast – Robert Patrick, D.B. Sweeney, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Bradley Gregg, Noble Willingham, Kathleen Wilhoite, James Garner, Georgia Emelin, Scott MacDonald, Wayne Grace
Release Year – 1993
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Fire in the Sky is a film I had been dying to watch ever since I first read about the film and the story behind it, and thanks to Netflix I did not have to try hard to get my hands on this one. Most of us balk at low-budget 90s horror films such as this one, but its amazing story and positive execution make Fire in the Sky one of the creepiest films that I have ever seen and a new addition to my favorites list.
When a group of five men return home from clearing brush for the federal government at a nearby state park, they claim one of the men, Travis Walton, was abducted by aliens on their way home. This story is wishy washy to the local authorities, and they bring in seasoned investigator Frank Watters(James Garner; The Great Escape) to find out what really happened. Watters believes the men are lying about the aliens in a cheap attempt to cover up the murder/disappearance of Travis Walton, and the local media does little to help the men, riling up the townsfolk to believe a group of murderers reside among them. As the men’s stories begin to prove true yet the authorities refuse to believe that aliens really abducted Walton, Walton mysteriously shows up five days later…and with one hell of a story to tell.
I would rather say this now than later: I loved this movie. Alien films have always intrigued me due to my fascination with the possibility of life outside of our planet, and when you throw in the abduction element it only makes things sweeter and creepier. The film claims to be based on “true events”, and is an adaptation of a book written by the actual Travis Walton titled “The Walton Experience”. Most of you all know that films claiming to be based on true events are only 10% true at the most, but this film experience has me convinced that this could be one of the more factual of the “true events” films, that is of course if you believe Mr. Walton was actually abducted.
The storyline is an awesome one, and is told in awesome fashion. We are left in the dark over what is going on at first, and the backstory is given to us multiple times in flashbacks as the men tell their story over what happened to Travis Walton. Each of the characters provides their own conflict to the story, and while some contributed more than others we were not given any worthless characters, which is always a plus to me when it comes to film writing. The horror is not always prevalent given this film is mostly about the character trials our protagonists are forced to endure as they try and clear their names, and a fair amount of drama is thrown in as a result of this. Thankfully, when the horror is brought into the film it is incredible, and complimented with the well-written drama we get a 109 minute effort that paces very well. Constant developments are thrown in, with the biggest and most shocking one coming when Travis Walton makes his appearance after disappearing without a trace for five days, a scene that gave me goosebumps and chills up my spine.
Director Robert Lieberman did a fantastic job with every element of the film, using a slew of actors lead by Robert Patrick(Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond, Autopsy) to deliver positive performances and great conflict/drama, as well as giving us superb horror when the film called for it. For such a simple PG-13 90s film to come with superb horror Lieberman had to do many things right, and he did by giving us superb atmosphere that came with every possible idea used to provide good scares such as dark shadows, numerous places to hide(forest), and intense visuals as well. All of this however pales in comparison to the scene consisting of Travis Walton reliving the experience he suffered at the hands of the aliens, which has to be one of the scariest sequences I have ever seen. The entire flashback consists of at least 10 minutes of runtime, and while taking its time to draw out scenes and raise the tension we get some truly scary alien action shown in a brash and full-frontal aspect that is sure to leave the viewer with scenes he/she will never forget. As I mentioned earlier, the horror is not overly prevalent int his watch in comparison to other horror films, but when the horror is brought in it hits very hard and left me with one of my favorite horror experiences of all time.
Overall, Fire in the Sky is a fantastic film that gives us a harrowing adaptation of one of the scariest experiences someone can face, and does so with great writing and superb direction. While the film is not an outright horror film and gives us lots of character drama, the horror in the film is some of the best that I have ever seen, making this a highly recommended watch for all horror fans, especially those with an interest in aliens.