Project Skyquake opens with a voiceover by Andrew Derrickson (Simon Bamford, Hellraiser, The Haunting of Margam Castle). His stepdaughter Cassie (Laura Ellen Wilson, Bloody Nun 2: The Curse, Christmas Slay) and her friend Margot (Laura Saxon, Closed Circuit, The Poltergeist Diaries) have vanished. Two of the six and a half billion people who vanished in a single day, The Day the World Changed.
Cassie had become somewhat obsessed with the phenomena known as skyquakes, strange, unexplained noises seeming to come from somewhere in the atmosphere. After a message from Hank (Tom Sizemore, Hustle Down, The Runners) that includes a video from an expert on the subject, Scott Carmichael (Robert LaSardo, Death Count, Sky Sharks), they decide to take a road trip to see and hear them for themselves.
Director József Gallai (I Hear the Trees Whispering. Moth) wrote a script for Project Skyquake but much of the dialogue was improvised by the film’s two leads. That adds to the Blair Witch Project feeling that the film’s opening has. And, with its self-filmed and at times shaky footage it does have a very old-school found footage feel to it. You may take that as a recommendation or warning according to your tastes.
Also like many found footage films Project Skyquake is a bit on the talky side until the girls reach their destination. The most interesting bit being their discussion of their absent fathers. One seems to have abandoned his family, the other vanished under strange circumstances. Once they do arrive they get their chance to witness a skyquake, followed by a warning to turn back coming over their car radio. The warning on the radio is especially creepy if you’ve read accounts of strange phenomena, especially John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies.
From here it just gets stranger and more unnerving as everyone else seems to have vanished. They find an empty house with a faucet still running and a meal on the table. A short distance away a car sits abandoned on the road. The rural setting with its bare trees and dead leaves only adds to the ominous feeling of these scenes.
Eventually, Project Skyquake takes a turn from what seemed like a straight science fiction film into horror territory as masked figures appear in the night. And then it goes down a rabbit hole of conspiracies, coverups, and worse. Calling it strange would be an understatement.
Indeed some people will probably find Project Skyquake’s last act a bit too strange for them. And I can’t really say that I blame them, it’s high strangeness of the first order and leaves a lot of questions unanswered at the final fade-out. I was hoping Professor Stokkebø (Jon Vangdal Aamaas, The Devil’s Machine, Cannibals and Carpet Fitters) would provide some explanations, but the filmmakers seem to be saving them for a sequel.
The film’s effects were done by Neil Rowe (Alien Outbreak, Zomblies) and are quite good for a low-budget film. The skyquakes themselves are simple but effective. He provides some other effects I won’t spoil beyond saying I’ve seen similar shots in bigger budgeted films that looked a lot less convincing. The score by Gallai’s regular composer, (as well as editor and cinematographer), Gergö Elekes is sparse but effective.
Coming in at seventy-two minutes, Project Skyquake kept me amused and occasionally weirded out. The final act could have done with a bit tighter plotting and the sound levels seemed inconsistent at times but beyond that, I really can’t complain about much.
As of now, Project Skyquake doesn’t have any announced distribution plans. You can check the film’s Facebook page for announcements when it does. If you’re looking for something to hold you over until then, FilmTagger has some suggestions.