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Parents' Guide to

Phoenix Forgotten

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Found-footage horror/sci-fi movie has some scares, blood.

Movie PG-13 2017 80 minutes
Phoenix Forgotten Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

Typical and unoriginal Found Footage thriller

Overall, Phoenix Forgotten was an exceptionally good film if you're looking for an easy thriller. It has a captivating beginning, a strong climax, and a shocking twist ending. The story follows the disappearance of three teenagers after they ventured into the Arizona desert to find the source of what looked like a UFO sighting. 20 years after the incident, one of the teen's sister comes back to investigate further into the closed case. She soon finds an old tape recorder that contains video footage showing the progress and eventual fate of the teens. Though it does have potential, and is produced by legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott, Phoenix Forgotten ultimately falls short of its mark. Borrowing heavily from earlier Found Footage films such as Cloverfield, the plot seemed somewhat reused and unoriginal. Though I recommend this movie at age 14+, parents should be aware of some of the frightening elements presented: The aftermath of dead coyotes are seen skinned and burnt up without an explanation, three teenagers are stalked by an unidentified force in the mountains in the dead of night, two people begin losing their minds in a particularly disturbing sequence, where they start laughing uncontrollably and hallucinating. The film also contains some language (mostly uses of sh**, but also d**n, h**l, and possibly a misuse of Jesus' name). There is also a scene in which teens sing karaoke to a rap song with suggestive lyrics.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

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.

Movie Details

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