The Sky Has Fallen (2009)


USA. 2009.


Director/Screenplay/Producer/Photography – Doug Roos, Music – James Sizemore, Makeup Effects – Doug Roos, Nathan Shelton & Mike Strain Jr., Production Design – Joe Ricklefs. Production Company – Lost Forever Productions


Laurel Kemper (Rachel), Carey MacLaren (Lance), Doug Steward (Bucanon), Cory Knisely (The Leader)


Civilisation has collapsed after being overrun by a zombie plague. In the aftermath, the few survivors have sought isolated places. Lance saves Rachel from a zombie attack. He reluctantly allows her to accompany him, stating that he is on a mission to track down and eliminate the head zombie. They also note that hooded figures have been abducting people and taking them away for experiments. As they follow the trail to the leader, a trust and connection grows between the two of them. They also become aware that the zombies have been laying traps for them and are capable of getting inside their heads.

The low-budget zombie film has become legion throughout the late 2000s following successes such as 28 Days Later (2002), Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Shaun of the Dead (2004). Dozens of novice filmmakers rushed in to follow George Romero’s footsteps and offered up gore-drenched visions of the zombie onslaught. Most of these are cheap and poorly made. The repetition of a limited number of themes and plots have quickly tired all possibilities the genre had. Filmmakers then turned to the zombie comedy/parody where zombies were usually blended with the least likely of combinations. By about 2011, this too started to feel like it had exhausted all possibilities that this particular niche held.

The Sky Has Fallen is another amateur-made zombie film from Doug Roos, a novice filmmaker based in Springfield, Missouri. It at least holds the distinction of being one of the few zombie films still being made that is taking itself seriously. However, as soon as the film sinks in with its amateur splatter and gore effects and earnestly well-meaning unprofessional photography, not to mention an overripe score trying to blow drama up, one feels that they have seen everything it is offering up before. A good many times before.

There is not a huge amount that The Sky Has Fallen does any differently. The gore, when it is not being unconvincing, often repeats the same limited moves over and over. (By the time it came out, the film had the novelty of being able to advertise itself as one of the few zombie films still reliant on practical effects rather than CGI – although this is far from the case in the low-budget zombie genre). On the other hand, when you get past the posturing action moves, The Sky Has Fallen sort of surprises you. Not in any way that makes it a major unfound discovery but enough to raise the level somewhat. Carey MacLaren does reasonably with the tight-lipped man of few word and the journey between he and Laurel Kemper becomes a character-driven drama – aside from a couple of other minor faces encountered along the trail, they are the only two people on screen. It never adds up to an undiscovered classic but provides a little more than you might expect from yet another amateur zombie film.

On the other hand, the film disappoints when it comes to its wider story. It has zombies behaving in very different ways than most of the zombies we have encountered on screen before. They seem to have a degree of sentience and like to torture people, set traps for the pursuing Lance, even have the ability to get inside the pursuers heads and torment them with illusions. This is intriguing, especially the idea that they have a leader and behave like a herd. However, all of this is ill explained. You feel that if a film is going to turn what we expect of a zombie film on its head and do radical things with it, then it needs to spend some of its story explaining why things are this way, but it never does. So all that leaves us with is a standard zombie film in which the zombies behave in puzzlingly un-zombie-like ways.

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