Ahh the notion of the found footage film. Judging a “book” by its cover is often unfair but with found footage it’s usually a safe bet. Paranormal Activity, The Last Exorcism, As Above So Below, among so many other epic failures have all but condemned this genre to the depths of automatic judgement. But as I was taught when I was young, there is always an exception to a rule. Is Phoenix Forgotten the exception? I can’t say yes but if nothing else it’s at least competent enough to be interesting and thrilling from start to finish.
It seems for every ten or so of these garbage films, one comes along like Phoenix Forgotten. Creep, V/H/S, V/H/S/2, to name a few are the kind of thrilling capers you hope to get from an oversaturated, underdeveloped slew of simple minded cinema that plagues the modern movie theater. To be fair, morons keep seeing this shit so who’s to blame? We are. Us. Dammit.
Where “PF” succeeds is in the story and the progression of actual characters with actual arcs to their stories as individuals and as a group. While there is an aim to scare and thrill, drama is inserted in the form of a family torn by unexplained loss that plagues their every waking moment. An event in 1997 is still as prevalent in their lives today as it was then. Wounds are still agape and relationships tarnished. Seeking answers and finding them proves to be as insane as the unknown aspects to a missing person’s case twenty years cold. Everything about this case screams for those left behind to move on but grief is a funny thing and can force people to do even funnier things. There is no light at the end of this tunnel and these characters run the gambit of emotions to the point of obsession and that is the very thing that started the story of three teenagers lost to a mystery seemingly unsolvable.
Phoenix Forgotten in no way changes the game as it were but without question it maintains a level of intrigue and creepiness with little to no waiver. It serves its purpose by doing what’s been done but doing it really well and adding that much needed aspect of character development.
Branching off an actual event and inserting its own story elements makes for a mostly worthwhile found footage extravaganza that knows what it is and hopes for nothing more than a chance to prove itself. I gave it a chance and I experienced a frenetic, straight-to-the-point adventure with plenty of mystery and ambiguity to make its audience wonder and worry about characters that manage to matter and impact the world created within the film. Phoenix Forgotten will be forgotten by most, hell it won’t even be seen by most let alone heard of but if this review can serve any purpose it would be to let you know about this decent thriller that deserves an audience of some kind. If you’re bored by cars going fast and beauties finding their beasties, I suggest giving Phoenix Forgotten a shot.
Rated PG-13 For: terror, peril and some language
Runtime: 87 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Starring: Florence Hartigan, Luke Spencer Roberts, Chelsea Lopez, Justin Matthews
Directed By: Justin Barber
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 3/ Visuals: 3
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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