BEYOND THE SKY is a sci-fi thriller directed by Fulvio Sestito for alien fans everywhere, written by Marc Porterfield and Rob Warren Thomas, with a story credit by producer Rebecca Berrih. This is Sestito’s directorial debut, a thriller that explores the truth behind alien abductions and its effect on family.

Chris Norton (Ryan Carnes) is shooting a documentary on alien abductions in an attempt to resolve his inner conflicts from childhood. His mother abandoned him on his birthday after she was beaten by his father, the scary-almost-mute guy from Fargo, character actor, Peter Stormare. But maybe she didn’t abandon him, maybe she was kidnapped by aliens. Chris recorded his birthday on a badass 80’s camcorder, and we see his mother run outside where an ‘Encounter’ occurs, lighting strikes and the wind blows as if a storm has arrived, but perhaps it is something else.

I didn’t like to see his mom get slapped around by his Dad, so no wonder Chris is conflicted, it’s not the aliens, it’s the fact that his Dad is a wife-beater. Chris’s father believes that his wife was kidnapped by aliens, a belief which destroyed the family, although older Chris seems like a good guy. Chris travels to a UFO convention in Roswell to disprove alien abductions for some peace of mind. There he investigates the big daddy fan club of alien encounters and although he makes fun of them, he discovers that there may be more to abduction stories than he wants to believe. Maybe this shit is real!

And there’s a girl, of course. He meets Emily (Jordan Hinson) who says that she too was kidnapped by aliens and worse, she shows him a scar on her neck, where an alien device was removed. Emily insists she is still visited by ‘them’ and she has tried to stop the visitations with rituals. Is she crazy? Seems like he might like her because soon they’re exploring the desert together, but Roswell is filled with dangerous characters, like the Dad from That 70’s Show. Not Red but Donna’s Dad, Don Stark, who does a fantastic turn as a baddie, for some odd reason he reminded me of the serial killer, Fred West.

Although the movie starts in the found footage genre when Chris and his friend are shooting the documentary, it drops that conceit as it explores the reality of the world. People hate found footage but I like the genre and I’ll defend Hell House LLC and The Blair Witch Project to the death, particularly Hell House.

This film has a quite a cast of character actors such as Dee Wallace, the mother in E.T. and The Howling, who shows Chris an alien artifact held in a refrigerator with a blue light, and apparently no other security not even a cheap lock. I’d save my cool, alien knick knacks in a safe place, hidden far away from meddling people. But maybe survivors know to not go messing around with alien artifacts.

The screenplay attempts to resolve the mystery behind abductions, but it’s hard to write dialogue that doesn’t sound silly. The Alien in Alien couldn’t talk and The Thing never explained itself. But I enjoyed BEYOND THE SKY, because I love special effects and extraterrestrial stories. I don’t even believe in aliens, I believe in the mathematical probability of course, but I like ideas weirder than just aliens, like Jacques Vallée’s Multidimensional Visitation Hypothesis, which states that aliens and other paranormal phenomenon might be part of a simulated control system. Ohhhhh, creepy!

Jacque Vallée isn’t a whack-job either, he’s a formally trained scientist, who co-developed the first computerized map of Mars for NASA in 1963. He was depicted by François Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and aspects of his personality were written into Mulder on The X-files, a heretic even among heretics.

I dunno, what if your Mom disappeared on your birthday? What if your Dad told you she was kidnapped by aliens? Wouldn’t you wanna know the truth? I WANT TO BELIEVE.

BEYOND THE SKY opens in select theaters September 21, 2018.

Tiffany Aleman
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