A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Characters try to deal with a tragedy the best that they can, but there are no easy solutions/strong messages.
Positive Role Models
Though the name of the game is terror and suspense, teens do show bravery and kindness to one another. According to a few brief shots, a teen girl seems to be something of a role model at her school, encouraging others to work together and follow the rules.
Violence & Scariness
Twenty years ago, three teens disappeared without a trace. Scary noises, flashing lights, screaming. Dead, bloody coyote corpses. Bloody noses. Suicide is mentioned, but only in reference to a soda fountain drink.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A teen boy is said to have a crush on a teen girl (some jealousy involved). Brief sex talk in one scene.
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"S--t" is used several times. Also "bitch," "d--k," "dumbass," "hell," "boner," "idiot."
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Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Three teens drink a six-pack of beer; no drunkenness or repercussions shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Phoenix Forgotten is a found-footage horror/sci-fi movie about UFOs and (possible) aliens. Based on a real-life sighting from 1997, it's cleverly and satisfyingly put together. It's also frightening: Viewers can expect scary noises, lights, and screaming. But while bloody coyote corpses and bloody noses are shown, other violence is imagined or takes place off screen. Language includes several uses of "s--t," plus "bitch," "d--k," "dumbass," "hell," and a few other words. A teen boy is said to have a crush on a teen girl, and there's brief, joking sex talk in one scene. The three teens drink a six-pack of canned beer. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This found-footage horror/sci-fi movie emerges as one of the most interesting and gripping efforts in a typically tired genre. That's thanks mainly to its clever use of footage and editing and the realistic performances. Based on a real-life 1997 UFO sighting that's since been widely debunked but is still widely discussed, Phoenix Forgotten does what The Blair Witch Project also successfully did: It jumps off from reality and slyly mixes in fiction. (It could be real...) And the performances don't sound or feel scripted; either the movie was improvised, or co-writers Justin Barber and T.S. Nowlin have an uncanny ear for the natural rhythms of human speech and behavior.
The movie's construction is also satisfying. The modern-day footage is shot and assembled just like an honest-to-goodness documentary, and the rawer 1997 video footage looks authentically from its era. (On top of that, characters who appear in both eras are believably aged.) Barber, who also directed, spends an impressive amount of time setting up the mystery, building it before finally paying it off with the final, lost videotape. That the final reveal doesn't live up to our imagination is perhaps the movie's biggest flaw, but before that, it's a terrific ride.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.