“You’ve taken everything from me; everyone I ever loved. I’ll never stop until I’ve killed every last one of you.”
The Sky Has Fallen –written, produced, edited, and directed by Doug Roos– has been touring the festival circuit since 2009, earning several awards and garnering general praise along the way. The film, known for entirely using practical effects and forgoing even the slightest bit of CGI, takes place in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by demonic figures. Lance (Carey MacLaren) and Rachel (Laurel Kemper), two survivors of the gruesome apocalypse, attempt to hunt down the creatures with the ultimate goal of killing their leader and bringing the apocalypse to an end.
Walking a tightrope between many genres, The Sky Has Fallen is essentially a romantic revenge thriller with demonic monsters and enough blood-shed to overdose ten vampires. The practical blood and special effects make-up by Doug Roos, Nathan Shelton, and Mike Strain Jr. have been widely praised by audiences, and the praise is well-deserved. Reminiscent of splatter films from the 80’s, horror and gore fans will undoubtedly be able to appreciate the effects work in The Sky Has Fallen… but how does the rest of the film fare?
With a unique take on the apocalypse as the backdrop for this film, Doug Roos’s story proves to be respectably ambitious for a movie made on such a low budget. Wisely, Roos tones down the grand scale of the apocalypse, giving us a small, human story within the realm set up by the exposition of Sky‘s opening. While the over-the-top violence and gore is the film’s strongest selling point, I found The Sky Has Fallen to be most compelling in the small moments that developed Lance and Rachel as characters. Each of them has a reason for hunting the demons, and as Sky goes along, we begin to learn and understand the motives of both characters.
For all Roos does right, however, there are still gripes to be made. The acting, first of all, is distracting at times. While it’s not bad by any stretch of the word, it’s quite difficult to pull off shooting two guns at once, looking like a masterful katana wielder, or charging at a demon with a katana in one hand and a gun in the other, without looking silly. While I have nary a criticism about the otherwise fine performances by MacLaren and Kemper, they just seem out of place during the action sequences, unfortunately. The most glaring issue I have with The Sky Has Fallen, though, is the repetition. The story constantly develops, but the development comes from the same sequence of events over and over. Given the greatness of the practical effects and the ambition of the story around Sky, I was ultimately disappointed by the film’s narrative.
The Sky Has Fallen is a competently made indie horror film with top-notch practical effects and an ambitious take on the apocalypse. While there are flaws to be found, fans of horror and gore will most definitely find Sky to be entertaining, and fans of character dramas will have much to appreciate as well.