The Movie Waffler First Look Review - <i>THE SKY HAS FALLEN</i> | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - THE SKY HAS FALLEN

Two strangers are thrown together in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Doug Roos

Starring: Carey MacLaren, Laurel Kemper, Cory Knisely

"There is a desire within this movie to do something personal and idiosyncratic with its limited resources; The Sky Has Fallen at least has its own take on the apocalypse."

With its blunt references to the Book of Revelation, The Sky Has Fallen reminds us that the apocalypse has fascinated mankind for time immemorial. Aside from Christian scriptures, most Creation Myths feature a flood of some sort too, surging across the globe from as far back as the Mesopotamians, and mainstream cinema has likewise depicted its fair share of pan global cataclysm (viz. the career of Roland Emmerich). Mass art reflects our biggest aspirations, along with our deepest fears. And sometimes the representation can be a heady blend of both; come on, who doesn’t have a plan for when the chips go down? No one ever daydreams about what it would be like to have their house burgled, but who hasn’t fantasised about being one of those last lucky survivors at the end of the world, with other people and their annoying ways washed away in a Biblical deluge, or, better yet, mowed down by marauding zombies? And so YA titles such as Divergent and The Maze Runner show fractured societies where teens triumph, Fury Road dominates cinema, and The Walking Dead is the world’s most popular telly. Moreover, film makers of a different calibre are fascinated with the apocalypse too; not just Hollywood producers with the finance to realise cataclysm, but micro budget, indie auteurs as well. Low production values are the palette of the ravages of annihilation, after all, and depicting the apocalypse means never having to say you’re sorry for single location shoots and a restricted narrative.
Romero was the king of this dynamic of course, and many others trail his blood-stained ermine, like case in point Doug Ross’ fun enough The Sky Has Fallen. The end is nigh situation is dealt with quickly and elegantly here, with jump cuts skipping over scenes of disaster-porn, and instead a voiceover intoning the emblematic conditions; virus…cities fallen…emergency services stretched, etc. We then cut to a leafy forest, where we linger, following sword wielding Lance (Carey MacLaren) and scared rabbit Rachel (Laurel Kemper), a couple of strangers thrown together by the unfortunate circumstance of a global pandemic and its grisly after-effects; the victims of the disease mutate into uber-zombies, with telepathic powers, super strength, and long sharp fingers which are all the better to rip your spinal cord out with. For reasons unknown (absolutely fine - we should never know why or how zombie plagues originate), Lance explains to Rachel that the uber-zoms are hunting the healthy to perform bizarre ‘experiments’ on them, and that only by finding and destroying the leader can they be stopped. These ‘experiments’ mainly seem to involve an uber-zombie tying an extra to a tree or simply effing them up and tearing out internal organs in the most bloody way the limited budget will allow, with little visible focus on any possible outcome within the sample space, but I’m sure they know what they’re doing…
Ok, The Sky Has Fallen is rough around the edges, there’s narrative incoherence and it’s ropey enough to trip itself over several times. Both MacLaren and Kemper are pretty as a picture, and months of living rough have done little to sully their youthful good looks. Within their verdant surroundings, when the pair stand still they could be posing for the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue. Would it have hurt to smear some mud or grease through their lovely hair? Because, in fairness, the zombies look amazing. Pustulent and cadaverous, their raw skin bearing stitches across the mouth and vile blisters that look fit to pop, these monsters go about their brutal business with unpleasant chaos, making stomach churning crunches and, well, wet sounds as they do.
One thing you have to say for The Sky Has Fallen, is that it delivers on the gore front, and then some (there’s this weird zombie sort of birth scene bit that has to be seen to be disgusted by). And that’s where The Sky Has Fallen shines, leaving other aspects in the leafy shade; sometimes the shot is framed awkwardly, and the pacing can lag - there’s a few too many scenes of Lance and Rachel comparing how hard done by they’ve been by the apocalypse, for example (move on, guys). And then, towards the end of their journey, Lance and Rachel’s expedition gracefully steps towards Nicholas Sparks territory - hunky Lance has commitment issues, too scared to get close to anyone in case a zombie goes and kills them, Rachel is feisty, but in need of being rescued. A zombie romance! Why not? Because the other thing to praise about The Sky Has Fallen is its sense of enterprise - with the odd couple narrative, and the uber-zombies evolution from their typical shambling counterpoints, there is a desire within this movie to do something personal and idiosyncratic with its limited resources; The Sky Has Fallen at least has its own take on the apocalypse.

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