The memories of a child are shaped by their experiences, that which they cannot understand explained to them by the adults around them, their parents and teachers who can influence what they believe to be true and what they hold to be false. The last time Chris Norton saw his mother was on his seventh birthday, and despite him having witnessed them fighting before she walked out the door his father always claimed that she was now beyond the sky, a victim of alien abduction.
Years have passed and Chris is now a documentary filmmaker, resentful of his stolen childhood and the lies which destroyed his family; his father having died two weeks before still clinging to his irrational beliefs, Chris has decided that he will set himself and others free from the toxicity of “alien abduction phenomenon” and all that goes along with it.
Travelling to Roswell, New Mexico, to attend the International UFO Conference, Chris struggles to maintain detachment in the face of the unquestioning new agers, the hucksters who prey on them and fleece them, the mentally ill who need help rather than reassurance in their delusions.
Thrown out of the conference for his hostile questioning of a supposed abductee whose experience could as easily be sleep paralysis, asking them if they are aware of “false memory syndrome,” Chris still has two leads: multiple abductee Emily who is convinced she will be taken again on her upcoming 28th birthday, and Lucille, owner of “metaphysical supply store” Seti Alpha 5 who claims to be in possession of an alien artefact.
Directed by Fulvio Sestito from a script by Marc Porterfield and Rob Warren Thomas, Beyond the Sky is intelligently written and opens from a refreshingly sceptical standpoint akin to The Last Exorcism as a debunker moves to expose the endemic fraud of a national movement of pseudoscience.
Played by The Phantom‘s Ryan Carnes, Chris is impulsive to the point of obsession and ill-considered in his actions, haranguing one of his subjects and almost stalking another even before he involves his production crew in breaking and entering, but he is undeniably driven by good intentions despite being more Dawkins than Sagan in his “take no prisoners” approach to hard truth.
Given high billing among the competent ensemble which also features Eureka’s Jordan Hinson and John Carter’s Don Stark, Clown’s Peter Stormare and Cujo’s Dee Wallace both appear only briefly but she has the more satisfying role as Lucille; more experienced than Chris at the art of the sell, does she genuinely wish to help him or is she another con artist out to make a quick buck from an easy mark?
The alien abduction scenario having been examined in forensic detail by The X-Files, while Beyond the Sky approaches by a different road it cannot avoid the lights in the sky at night, flashlights in the dark, tapes of regression therapy and a visit to the pueblo of the Anasazi, and like Skyline or the extended version of Close Encounters of the Third Kind it falls into the trap of making explicit what was better kept abstract and undefinable earlier in the film.
Beyond the Sky is available from Spirit Entertainment now