Sunday, November 1, 2020

Myrick on Target with 'Skyman'

Skyman is the fictional story of Carl Merryweather, a California man who believes he experienced an alien encounter when he was 10-years-old. The 2020 film is written and directed by Daniel Myrick, known for the popular and successful movie, The Blair Witch Project. His latest undertaking has a similar format, as the saga unfolds from behind the camera of a filmmaker shooting a documentary about Carl. Other shots are also used strategically, and Myrick is on target with the effect I suspect he was aiming to achieve. I appreciate the perspectives and metaphors.

The primary value of Skyman to me is its accurate portrayal of behavioral dynamics found throughout the UFO genre. It is a solid representation of some self-described experiencers. It is an equally accurate portrayal of how friends, family, acquaintances, and even the UFO community itself often act in response. Skyman is likely to inspire reflection among those familiar with these dynamics. 

The first half or so of the film acquaints us with Carl and his story. We follow along as television news clips, newspaper articles, and personal interviews inform us of a black triangle UFO sighting from 30 years ago. Many people reportedly saw the craft. A young Carl told reporters he encountered "Skyman." 

Adult Carl now believes he is to be at the spot of the encounter, which is in the California desert, for his approaching 40th birthday. He thinks the aliens will return to the location at that time.

The dysfunction of Carl's family of origin becomes increasingly apparent as the film progresses, as do Carl's tendencies to obsess. He is what we might term a functioning neurotic, which is to say he gets along pretty par for the course in the world but a closer look reveals he harbors some disjointed ideas and schemes, causing him substantial anxiety.

Skyman, and the persuasive performance delivered by Michael Selle as Carl, very much remind this viewer of the subjective nature of the human mind itself. In this instance, it is illustrated through a hall of mirrors-like metaphor of a camera recording the recordings of other cameras periodically throughout the film, all done with the enchanting desert for a backdrop.

The second half of the film finds Carl waiting in the desert for the Skyman's return, accompanied by his sister Gina and lifelong friend Marcus. I appreciate the performances given by Nicolette Sweeney and Faleolo Alailima in those roles. The characters were developed well and this movie worked. Gina and Marcus care about Carl, and maybe even want to believe him at times, but are ultimately more worried about his well-being than an alien encounter. The work of Selle, Sweeney, and Alailima should be commended for successfully carrying the latter part of the film.

Those familiar with UFO lore will recognize several references in Skyman. Carl considers himself a researcher, though his lines of reasoning and methods might be justly challenged at times, and he subsequently collected loads of material. Along these lines, the supposed documentary takes us with Carl to the McMinnville UFO Festival, where more references arise.

In yet another later scene, about an hour and nine minutes into the film, Carl tells Marcus about the role he believes owls play in screen memories. "Mike Clelland wrote a whole book on it!" Carl exclaims.

The pacing of the film enhances and, in itself, offers yet another metaphor for the story. It picks up speed as it goes, culminating in somewhat of a runaway chain of events. Viewers might find themselves feeling emotions ranging from compassion to anxiety for the trio as things seem to be happening too fast for them to process effectively. I found myself wishing, for their sake, they could take a deep breath, slow down a moment, and think. This is not to suggest a flaw in the film, but that its acting is effective. Among the emotions viewers experience might also be pain in the form of empathy for the characters. 

Many viewers will identify with dilemmas portrayed. A prominent theme presented is the difficulty sometimes experienced in accurately distinguishing between coincidences and meaningful events, and what, if anything, should be the takeaway.

Skyman works because it is clever, artistic, and its characters are accurate portrayals. It has an intriguing plotline with dark undertones. The film gives viewers a lot to chew on, and I appreciate that.

I viewed Skyman at Redbox. It is also available at YouTube and other venues.