I first started thinking about doing this challenge thing during a work date with my friend Amanda and she suggested Fire in the Sky. I’d never heard of this movie, so I didn’t know what to expect.

What I got was a movie that was heavy on the relationships and low on the actual horror content. Which makes sense as it’s billed as a drama. Basically, it’s a story about a man who gets abducted by aliens, based on a book about the Travis Walton UFO Incident by Travis Walton. Mostly, though, the story is told through the eyes of Mike Rogers, the head of the logger crew Walton was a part of. As can be expected, there’s some visceral, unconsenting medical experimentation so I wouldn’t necessarily quite term this a straight drama either. There’s some fairly heavy-handed authorial intent in there but all in all the film is oddly compelling.

Spoiler content starts here:
so this was an interesting movie to watch for a lot of reasons, but especially so as a fledgling storyteller. Like I said, there were some spots where there were some obvious authorial inserts. It feels odd commenting on a real person, but it’s not like I can be objective of stuff that happens to me either. For the purposes of the movie, Travis Walton was painted as a basic Mary Sue. He’s a magical, happy-go-lucky guy who literally everyone loves, except one guy in his work crew, who’s needlessly antagonistic toward him. The man who’s little sister he’s courting keeps saying Walton is his best friend but he doesn’t seem to act like it. The film tries and fails, to paint Mike’s actions as unsympathetic while keeping the man sympathetic. The film actually is a lot more interesting where it comes to Mike. The idea of the community turning on a person is really compelling in a story and I wish they’d focused more on the horror in that, without the teary speech Mike made about it.

Ultimately, Fire in the Sky mainly failed in trying to tell too many stories in one movie. There’s the story of Mike’s relationship with his community and family, Travis’s alien encounter, the investigation surrounding his disappearance and so on. If you can ignore the “Based on true events” marker, in the beginning, the film is really compelling despite its flaws.