This film had one strike going in — the horribly generic title. And another strike just a few seconds in as they misspelled US Air Force. They pulled it out, though, with a home run . . . ummm in the park . . . maybe on an error.
The film starts out in an alien ship with the found-footage camera being tossed out a garbage chute.
Then we truly begin with some allegedly true accounts of the Brown Mountain Lights including mysterious lights, creatures, abductions, and certain anti-gravity antics reported by a woman who would have really stress-tested the technology.
The Morris family is going camping at Brown Mountain. It is refreshing that they are not all assholes as is typically the case. Mom and Dad are there with kids Corey and Jillian. Younger son Riley is autistic which is used as an excuse to have him hold on to that camera like grim death. He is pretty chatty for an autistic kid — it seems to come and go. Maybe it’s that 24 hour autism.
As the gals and the guys are setting up the tents, naturally the woman finish before the men figure theirs out because mens are stoopid. It still has not occurred to Hollywood that this same constant joke is actually patronizing to women. At least they let a man make the fire. With a barbecue grill lighter.
That night, after some strange flashes of light that illuminate the tents, they go outside and see the famous Brown Mountain Lights. At first it is just 3 lights forming a triangle. Then they slowly move around, and zip away very quickly.
The next day, back in the mini-van, the GPS predictably goes out as they travel on back-roads. They run low on gas because Dad was too stoopid to fill the tank, but do make it to a tunnel which contains several abandoned cars randomly scattered on the road. Doors are open and toys, baby seats, CDs, and broken seat belts ominously litter the road.
The cars all seem recently er, abandoned. They are just sitting there empty and fueled up for the taking, but Dad decides to explore the tunnel instead. There is even a police car there with a radio blaring, but no time for that.
There is a very chilling incident in the tunnel which I will not spoil. The lights, editing, and sound design actually sent chills through me. You can bitch about Riley continuing to film, but would you rather not see anything? Shut up.
The survivors get back in the van and tear out for the 50 yards the gas lasts them, then hoof it on foot. They go up a dirt driveway that they had noticed on the way in. Up until this point, I would rate this film as excellent. However, the redneck who lives down the lane is the weak link in the film.
Sean greets them in his front yard with a rifle. Its not like he’s moon-shining and these are revenuers — he just seems to be acting like an asshole. He has the standard over-the-top southern accent, camo, trucker cap, manly-man beard and butt dangling from his mouth as he takes aim at them. Like all movie hicks, he lives with his brother. Shockingly, the script does not have him request anyone to squeal like a pig.
Once he sees what they are up against, he does take them in. Luckily Sean does prove to have some good survival instincts. He cleverly realizes that the police car in the tunnel will be the object of a huge search, and strings cans around his property to act as alarms. That night, Sean’s place is flooded with light as the aliens attack. Tragically, their galaxy-hopping technology enabled them to outwit the tin can strategy.
Sean is able to find his brother’s empty truck. He is taking the survivors — which are now fewer in number — to town. Once again, they see the bright lights. Sean gives them direction to a barn to hide in. A couple more are taken in the standard Fire in the Sky bright light tractor beam — but now with back breakage!
After a minute of credits, there is an utterly unnecessary epilogue. But it does break up the 11 minutes of credits. As always, I applaud them for not padding out the movie.
Other than Sean’s caricature of Hollywood’s perception of a southerner, this is a very good, efficient, chilling film. Everyone else is great in their roles, it it moves at a perfect pace, and has some good scares. Special kudos to the sound design which is literally chilling.
- Wouldn’t The Brown Mountain Abductions have been a more obvious and much more interesting choice of title?
- The “actual” Lights have an official site featuring a clip which should embarrass The National Geographic Channel. The Travel Channel also has a clip but I’ll be damned if I’ll sit through a 30-second commercial to see it.
- For an opposing view: Skeptoid.
- Is it even possible to have an in-the-park home run that does not include an error?
- What kind of asshole does this to the rocks? That’s who ought to be abducted and have their back broken. You know, after a trial.