TERROR IN THE SKIES *** USA 2019 Dir: Seth Breedlove. 67 mins
Ohio-based filmmaker / cryptozoologist Seth Breedlove has spent the last few years making slick independent documentaries for his production outfit Small Town Monsters about famous and less familiar paranormal encounters, from THE BOGGY CREEK MONSTER and THE MOTHMAN OF POINT PLEASANT to THE BEAST OF WHITEHALL and, more recently, the mini-series ON THE TRAIL OF BIGFOOT. This one is a companion piece to MOTHMAN, analysing a series of sightings of mysterious flying creatures around IIlinois, starting with the Point Pleasant-like whisperings of a “Chicago Mothman” in 2017. Assorted witnesses claim to have seen airplane-sized giant birds at up to 3000 feet altitude, illuminated by a dull glow. Paranormal researchers and eyewitnesses ponder whether they might be projections from the past of long-extinct beings or time-slips, while others suggest a mission echoing the Point Pleasant Mothman, warning of catastrophic events to come. It’s another compelling, well-crafted documentary, offering a vivid history of the individual locations along with the scepticism faced by the witnesses (notably, a black panther sighting dismissed as a beaver). Breedlove doesn’t overuse the CG imagery that punctuates the talking heads, though Lyle Blackburn’s hokey narration feels old fashioned and intrusive, as if Fox Mulder lost his way in life and belatedly whored himself out for documentary gigs: “Why does it begin? This quest to explain the unexplainable… Is there any reason sceptical, rational people would believe these things exist…?” Full marks to the movie, however, for referring to the events as a “flap of sightings”.
Review by Steven West