In 1902 Georges Méliès released his most widely known film, A Trip To The Moon. This international success was the innovative director’s longest and most lavish production at the time. The silent movie helped solidify the themes and ideas of science fiction on film and was influential on the cinematic narrative structure as a whole.
Thus, from the very beginning of sci-fi films, there have been stories of aliens. Unlike their zombie or vampire brethren, whose pop culture influence is cyclical, aliens have always remained as go-to sci-fi characters. The question then is, can you make an original alien invasion story? If director Conrad Faraj’s Fighting The Sky has anything to say about it, then, yes, yes you can.
A strange noise coming from somewhere in the stratosphere is heard the world over. College student Lorraine Gardner (Angela Cole), along with her friends, are searching for the origins and meaning of the sounds. Meanwhile, Valerie Paz (Jinette Faraj), a 13-year-old who is obsessing over the noises, is checking out every book on aliens she can find. As the sounds are getting more and more news coverage, Lorraine uncovers a story from 1987, while coincidentally a handful of people just showed up onto a farm late at night. The thing is, these people were missing for a good number of years.
“…the others take refuge in a house together as they attempt to figure out what the aliens want and why they are here.”
This discovery also coincides with Valerie, her sister Rosie (Judith A. Faraj), and their friends discovering an alien lifeform in a cave. Now outside, alien spacecraft are chasing cars to and fro, as the green bipedal creatures are on the ground hunting humans. Lorraine, Valerie, and the others take refuge in a house together as they attempt to figure out what the aliens want and why they are here.
Conrad Faraj crafts the first half of the film as a minimalist drama about how these odd sounds are affecting people from all walks of life. He capably slides in and out of one story to the next, establishing place, character, and time quite handily. There are lots of quiet moments wherein some are listening to noises or reading about what is happening, allowing the audience to get into the headspace of each person. Faraj also capably juxtaposes scenes very well. Valerie and her friends are playing tag in the park, before finding the extraterrestrial. That peaceful tranquility is a far cry from just moments later when there is panic. Once the alien emerges, there is chaos amongst the fleeing folks.
The director of photography Greg Kraus paints a lovely looking movie, with the forest surrounding the town, popping offscreen with vibrant colors. The lighting is also notable, especially later in the film once the leads batten down the hatches at the house. Kraus goes heavy on atmosphere with clever use of shadow to imply danger, adding to the mounting sense of dread the characters are feeling.
“…once things amp up on that front, it becomes more involving and intense.”
Conrad Faraj co-wrote Fighting The Sky with David Matthew Cummings and Roger Jones. While the transition into a more commonplace alien invasion is abrupt and a bit bumpy, once things amp up on that front, it becomes more involving and intense. More importantly, the characters are distinct and realistic. Lorraine’s reasons for straying away from her other ufologist friends is more than just an explanation for them not being together at the start. That reconciliation is part of her arc and the way it plays out, especially at the end, is very heartfelt. The way Valerie and Rosie press each other’s buttons make them feel like authentic siblings, and that can be a tricky thing to nail down realistically.
While the move from drama to survivalist thriller isn’t without its bumps Fighting The Sky is still a very good movie. It boasts excellent acting from a capable cast, a strong script with realistic characters, energetic directing, gorgeous cinematography, and a very original take on alien invasion stories.
Fighting The Sky (2019) Directed by Conrad Faraj. Written by Conrad Faraj, David Matthew Cummings, Roger Jones. Starring Angela Cole, Jinette Faraj, Judith A. Faraj, Roger Conners, Alison Headrick, Brianna Burke.
8 out of 10 UFOs