While I have been attracted to horror, sci-fi, and other films of similar genres for well over 30 years, I was never much of a collector until the later years of my life. While I may have purchased a few films for my personal use through my teenage years, I was never much of a collector of films and film memorabilia. (Although I believe I’ve mentioned this on the site before) I didn’t become a movie collector until sometime in the late 2000s. 2006ish, to be more precise, as if it really made a difference.
As with many folks that I know who share the same “hobby”, I initially never thought of it as collecting. It was just buying movies that I enjoyed so that I could watch them whenever I pleased. However, that soon became a situation where I picked up everything that looked marginally interesting. The easiest way to accomplish this was to find a place that sold them cheap, buy a handful or two, and spend a few days binge watching from the comfort of my couch. Granted, this becomes easier to do when you find a place that sells mass quantities of these films for an exceptionally low price. For me, one of those places was Big Lots.
While I originally didn’t shop at Big Lots rather often, it quickly became a weekly stop for my newlywed wife and I as (at the time) they always had a large selection of discounted DVDs, a large majority of which would tend to be horror films. Sure, I purchased quite a few duds, thanks to that $3 sticker price. That said, it was also a doorway to quite a few films that I had never previously seen or even heard of. One of those films was 2007’s Night Skies.
Night Skies is a 2007 alien invader/abduction thriller from director Roy Kynrim. Kynrim’s previous directorial efforts were 2004’s Demons At The Door and 2006’s Cemetery Gates (starring Phantasm-favorite Reggie Bannister). He would also go on to direct the 2008 action flick, Death Racers, which starred the Insane Clown Posse. Honestly, the less said about that movie, the better. While Kynrim may only have a few director credits to his name, he has had a much longer career as an effects artist, starting out on films like The Toxic Avenger II, Society, and Elm St. Part 5, and working still today on recent films like Sinister 2 and Tales of Halloween.
Night Skies is set in the deserts of Arizona during the evening of March 13th, 1997. Not at all coincidentally, this is also the same night as a real-life occurrence in which a series of unexplained lights were observed floating in the skies over Arizona for hours on end. The incident was observed by thousands of citizens, including police officers and even then-Arizona Governor Fife Symington III! The event has since become known as “the Phoenix Lights”.
As the film opens, we find a young woman running through the woods at night. While we do not see just what is chasing her, her speed and recklessness implies danger is not far behind. She comes across a ramshackle shed buried deep in the woods and runs to it hoping for any form of help, but finds the door stuck shut. She manages to gain entry just mere moments before her pursuer catches up with her and slams into the door. It bursts open and the scene fades to black.
Following a video clip featuring then-Arizona Senator John McCain asking for an investigation into the source of the mysterious Arizona lights, the film reopens to find a group of friends driving an RV through the Arizona desert on their way to Las Vegas. The crew consists of the driver, Matt (George Stults of TV’s 7th Heaven), his fiancee Lilly (AJ Cook – Final Destination 2, Wishmaster 3), and his sister, Molly (Ashley Peldon, who played the younger versions of Phoebe Cates in Drop Dead Fred and Debra Jo Rupp’s “Kitty” on That 70’s Show). Also along for the trip are Matt’s best friend, Joe (Joseph Sikora) and his wife, June (prolific voice-actress Gwendoline Yeo).
While Joe and June seem to be a perfect example of wedded bliss, Matt and Lilly’s own relationship shows more than a few signs of strain. While most of this stems from Lilly’s disappointment and anger that her engagement shows no signs of heading towards marriage anytime soon, quite a bit of her own tension may be caused by a little secret that Lilly is keeping from him. She’s 3 months pregnant!!!
Mere moments later, June notices a series of strange lights floating across the night sky. Soon, all of the RV’s occupants are staring out of the window at the lights as they drive. This includes Matt, who is so distracted by the sight that he completely fails to notice the broken-down truck on the side of the narrow road, sideswiping the driver-side mirror and almost hitting the driver, before swerving off the road and running into a utility pole. Even though the stranded motorist properly placed traffic flares in the road to alert other motorists of his presence, Matt still blames the man for the accident. Angered, Matt punches the other man when he attempts to check on their condition.
However, Matt’s focus (and everyone else’s, for that matter) is drawn back to the crashed RV once it is discovered that Joe somehow landed on a large butcher knife during the accident. It is now lodged deeply in his shoulder next to his neck. Matt is prepared to pull the knife out, but is stopped by an unknown voice. The other motorist, a man named Richard (Jason Connery, who co-starred with Cook in Wishmaster 3), has entered their RV, advising them against removing the knife as doing so may cause Joe to bleed to death. When asked if he is a doctor, Richard declines, but states that he received some prior medical training while he was in the Army.
Thanks to Richard’s intervention, Joe is bandaged up and placed in bed, but is still in dire need of medical assistance. The situation temporarily resolved, Richard exits the RV, with Molly and Lilly following behind. They take a moment to properly introduce themselves, before Holly offers the man a sip from the bottle of vodka that he used on Joe’s wound. However, Richard declines, citing that he is a recovering alcoholic. Matt also exits the vehicle in order to make whatever repairs he can, still blaming Richard for the accident and making snide comments towards him. This leads to even more tension between Lilly and Matt. While she thanks Richard for his help in patching up their friend, she must also deal with the fact that her fiancee is an enormous man-child with no real sense of responsibility (or possibly maturity).
Despite a noticeable age difference, Richard and Holly begin to hit it off, with her openly flirting with him as she helps him move his truck completely off the road. That said, one gets the notion that Holly would probably be flirting with any man who happened to come along. During their conversation, Richard discloses that he was a POV during the Iraq War. This more than explains some of the issues that the man has faced in his life, as well as who he is today because of those experiences. A damaged man, Richard is clearly reciprocating the attention he is receiving from Holly.
And then the aliens show up……
While working on the RV, Matt hears sounds coming from the woods near the sides of the road. Believing it to be Lilly, he goes to investigate, but finds nothing. He returns to the RV, completely oblivious to the alien that had been watching him from the nearby trees. As he arrives, he finds that Joe’s condition is steadily deteriorating. Unfortunately for all parties, the RV is currently beyond any repairs that they themselves can make. With little to no other option, Matt decides to return to the woods in search of a house or other place to find help. Even though he’s not been given reason to feel this way, he adamantly distrusts Richard and orders the man to go with him. However, within minutes, it becomes clear that their general distrust and disapproval of each other will be the least of their problems! And, no…… I am not referring to Star Trek: TNG‘s Michael Dorn, who has a very brief cameo at the end of the film.
While not an overly-original concept, I still found Night Skies to be fairly entertaining. The film doesn’t attempt to get overly complex, and some may say that it adds little-to-nothing new to the “alien menace” film formula. What it does do, in my opinion, is present a fairly creepy and unsettling story, albeit one that’s a little commonplace. That said, as I’ve been fascinated with tales of UFOs and alien encounters ever since I was a wee laddie, I may be a little biased.
The vast majority of the film takes place along this one isolated stretch of road, which in some ways makes the story feel “smaller”, but also presents a strong sense of isolation and helplessness. There is a sequence aboard the alien vessel (which we never see the exterior of) late in the film. While there are some neat special effects to behold (as well as a few that have not aged well over the last 12+ years), it’s ultimately nothing that fans of the sub-genre haven’t seen before (and in many cases, better).
Night Skies is not what I’d call a great movie by any means, but it is suitably entertaining and features a respectable level of “creepiness”. Performances are decent, even if Connery’s “Texas” accent does occasionally slip and Stults’s “Matt” does come off as your overly stereotypical, cookie-cutter “jerk boyfriend”. In Stults’s case, I do think that this is due more to the script than his performance. There’s just not much for him to do besides stand around and bitch.
Recommended with lowered expectations.
Like damned near everything, DVD copies of Night Skies are available on Amazon. New copies have become fairly pricey, but a used copy can be found for just a few bucks. The film is also available for FREE for Prime Video members. LINK: https://amzn.to/36YTbpO