I think this movie did such little business this past weekend that theaters are likely to forget they even had this and toss it out in a week or two. Which is a shame because it is actually one of the better found footage movies out there to exist. Why? Because PHOENIX FORGOTTEN changes the formula a bit to make things more interesting than just similar like Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch or Cloverfield. And while it isn’t scary (I didn’t watch a trailer because at being only 85 minutes I thought a trailer would spoil it, so maybe it’s just supposed to be sci-fi), it is very entertaining and contains better than average acting for your typical found footage film.
So how does this found footage film change the formula a little you may ask? Because it is only half a found footage film. Half of the film is shot steady documentary, clip, news footage style, and the other half of the film is a found footage film. The whole film uses the 1997 Phoenix Lights real phenomenon that happened and adds a lot of fiction to the proceedings to turn it into a movie. The documentary half of the film follows a sister of one of the three lost people that disappeared shortly after the Phoenix Lights phenomenon happened, and she’s doing a documentary on the whole incident and trying to piece clues to her brother’s disappearance as well.
This part of the film is shot mostly steady style, with clips, and some found footage woven in between to make the film have a documentary type atmosphere. Add the better than average acting and the audience gets something that feels like an actual real documentary. This found footage movie feels real, more real than anything that has come before it. The found footage part of the film comes from tapes her brother left behind in a car that was found on the side of the road, and a “secret lost camera” (you “pffted” didn’t you? So did I but I swear that is really the only laughable idiotic thing in the film) that shows what happened after the tapes that were already in police evidence.
And you know the main problem with found footage movies? They are too fucking clean. Cloverfield is too clean, Blair Witch is too clean (even the original), the Paranormal Activity movies, some of them taking place in the 70s, 80s, whatnot, are WAY too clean. The found footage supposedly filmed in 1997? It actually feels like it was shot in 1997. Grainy sometimes as fuck, and sometimes blurry, it felt like I was watching found footage, and that was the kicker to take this film out of “only another found footage movie territory.” Even some of the CGI added in the 1997 found footage looks amazingly genuine. I was really invested in this entire thing.
It is too bad that the found footage movie genre is almost basically dead. The last several Paranormal movies didn’t do shit at the box office and neither did Blair Witch. And this didn’t make that much money although it should easily retain it’s small 4 million dollar budget. If this had come out at the height of those movies, like around the 1st or 2nd Paranormal pictures, this would’ve done really really well. Maybe it will develop a cult following once it is released on home video. I encourage you to check it out at least once, it is interesting, and might be the cure to your found footage movie fatigue.