Directed & Written by Daniel Myrick
Featuring Michael Selle, Nicolette Sweeney, Faleolo Alailima
Produced by Joseph Restaino, p.g.a., Daniel Myrick, p.g.a., Anthony Pernicka & William Surgeon
Composed by Don Miggs & Billy Corgan
SKYMAN is the story of Carl Merryweather, who believes he experienced an alien encounter 30 years ago and is trying to reconnect with the aliens on his 40th birthday. Clearing up some preconceptions I had about this movie going in will be helpful in deciding if SKYMAN is for you. The movie was written and directed by Daniel Myrick, who wrote and directed The Blair Witch Project. I went into the movie thinking it would be another found footage horror movie. I tend to hate that movie making technique, but Myrick essentially started the trend with The Blair Witch Project, which was a great movie made on a famously small budget, so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, this movie is not ‘Blair Witch with aliens.’
SKYMAN is best thought of as an interesting documentary. The found footage format is constrained by the idea that everything you are watching was captured on the video. To tell a plausible story, the technique often strains credibility regarding when the camera is on and what it can capture. SKYMAN is basically a documentary about Carl. This format allows the filmmaker to edit the footage in a coherent way. Like many documentaries, facing the camera interviews are inter-cut with scenes of the crew following Carl and later his sister and best friend. It’s a minor point, but I appreciated how Myrick avoided forcing anything on camera that a documentary crew wouldn’t really have gotten (I hate when found footage movies rely on the camera that was accidentally left on laying on the ground to capture a private conversation between two characters). As in Blair Witch, Myrick uses unknown actors, which lends authenticity to the documentary. You really feel like you are watching a documentary film about an ordinary dude who thinks he met an alien.
As a documentary about Carl, the movie lacks action. It doesn’t really have any scares in it, so I wouldn’t characterize it as a horror movie. It really is a straightforward documentary, albeit a fictional one. It is also an excellent character study. Michael Selle masterfully plays Carl. He’s a nice, average guy whose life has been shaped by his encounter with the Skyman when he was young. He’s not over the top zany, but he has some believable quirks. You don’t necessarily believe his story, but you believe he believes it. By avoiding the ‘crazy alien believer’ tropes, Myrick and Selle make Carl likable and relatable. Caring about Carl is essential to enjoying this movie, as not much happens. Again, think documentary.
This isn’t to say there is no plot. Things slowly start to intensify as Carl’s birthday gets closer and you do find yourself wondering what will happen, but make no mistake – it moves methodically and takes its time. SKYMAN has tension, but not scares.
Skyman defied my expectations. If you are looking for a scary horror film or a lot of action/special effects, this movie isn’t for you. But Myrick’s take on documentary film-making is worth a watch if you go into it with an open mind.
My rating for the movie is a B.
The movie opens in select drive-in theaters in the US starting on June 28th, and on video-on-demand starting July 7th.