Phoenix Incident (2015) (NTSC)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-x 7 (approx 28 minutes in total)
Additional Footage-Extra Tapes
Theatrical Trailer-x 2
|Year Of Production||2015|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Keith Arem|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, extra scene after credits|
"The Truth is Coming"
On the night of 13 March 1997 mysterious lights appeared in the sky over Arizona that were seen by thousands of people over a wide area. That much is fact. The same night it seems that four friends hiking in the hills disappeared. Phoenix Incident, by first time feature writer / director Keith Arem (although he has directed over 50 video games), is a “documentary” made in 2015 showing that the lights were part of an alien invasion of Earth in which the four friends died and that the US military conspired to cover up the alien invasion ever since.
On the night of 13 March four friends, Ryan (Troy Baker), Glenn (Yuri Lowenthal) Mitch (Travis Willingham) and Jacob (Liam O’Brien), are in the hills outside of Phoenix with their quad bikes. They see the lights in the sky, then triangular alien craft being attacked by US fighter jets which force one to crash. They investigate (as you do) and are attacked by reptilian looking aliens; fleeing they seek shelter in the isolated compound of religious nut Walton S Gayson (Michael Adamthwaite) but are overwhelmed and killed by the aliens, the watching US military being unable to save them. After the men fail to return, the police investigate their disappearance and Gayson is arrested for their murder, the military refusing to reveal the true circumstances of their deaths.
In Phoenix Incident Arem mixes together “found footage” from the camera carried by the friends, found footage from Gayson’s security cameras, US military night goggle vision and aircraft camera tapes, TV news bulletins and interviews with the family and friends of the four men, police officers and a US air force “whistle blower” (played by actors) to reveal the events of that night. It is done quite well, the intercutting of real and manufactured footage cleverly done so it is possible to suspend belief long enough to accept that some of this may have happened, such as the presence of unidentified craft in the sky, if not the killing of the men by aliens; however, conspiracy theorists would love it!
A lot of Phoenix Incident is the standard jerky and mixed focus “found” footage with artefacts which means that sometimes it is hard to see what is happening. The film runs only 82 minutes but it still feels padded with a lot of video footage of the four friends clowning and messing around in the days leading up to the events of that night. I guess this was intended to individualise the four men and provide background but it doesn’t really work for later, with the unfocussed and jerky found footage, it is hard to see who is doing what anyway. However, once Phoenix Incident gets to the downing of the alien craft, despite the weak looking aliens, the film is tense, exciting and chaotic as it builds towards its climax inside Gayson’s compound.
Phoenix Incident is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, although some “found footage” is 1.33:1. It is NTSC and 16x9 enhanced.
As the film uses found footage from video cameras, surveillance cameras, night vision goggles, aircraft cameras and the like, it is in places grainy, blurred, soft and out of focus, with varied colours and contrasts and artefact galore, blacks that vary and indistinct shadow detail. Thus the print is as the filmmaker intended. In interviews and in scenes shot to look like a normal film detail is sharp and colours natural. I did not notice any marks or artefacts that were not intended.
The layer change at 59:18 resulted in an obvious pause of the video and audio in the middle of an interview scene.
No subtitles are provided.
Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps, surround encoded.
This does not come out sounding like a 2.0 track. Right from the start helicopter engines emerge from the rears and later the roar of jet engines pan across the sound stage and alien creature growls fill the air. Gunshots and explosions are loud and reverberate. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. My subwoofer produced rumble that supported the engines, shots, explosions and music.
The original score by John Paesano was effective.
Lip synchronisation was fine. There was some deliberate distortion, such as the crackle of the wind, in some found footage segments.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is divided into seven short sections, which can be selected individually or through a “Play all” option. Taken as a whole this is a reasonable extra which mixes on-set, rehearsal and read-through footage, film footage and comments by writer / director Keith Arem, producer Ash Sarohia, DP Brandon Cox, cast members Michael Adamthwaite, Troy Baker, Yuri Lowenthal, Travis Willingham and Liam O’Brien plus 2nd unit director and stunt coordinator Anthony Molinari in the section on stunts. The title of each section gives a good idea of what is covered:
News broadcast and a pseudo-documentary:
The Teaser Trailer (1:17), Official Trailer (2:31) and “The Truth is Coming” (1:44).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
I cannot find a review of the US Region 1 DVD of Phoenix Incident but as this Australian release is NTSC Region All and has decent extras I doubt the US release would be any different.
Found footage and alien invasion films, not to mention conspiracy theory films, have become quite common but for a low budget film, mixing these genres, Phoenix Incident is a more than decent attempt by writer / director Keith Arem which mixes the known facts with the possible and some wild speculation. The result is an intriguing, and more than a little entertaining, film although I suspect that the truth is still out there somewhere.
The video and audio are as the filmmaker intended. The extras are worthwhile.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|