Director Robert Lieberman’s horror drama has a lot going for it, one of which is the immense dread that drips from every minute of the film. We’re never quite sure what occurred to character Travis Walton in the woods, and why he was abducted by Extraterrestrials, but I was very interested in finding out how the various sub-plots would fare. Sure, “Fire in the Sky” is a very loose adaptation of the original abduction accounts, but it works as a horror film that side steps awe inducing UFO sighting. There’s not even much of a focus on the abduction of Travis Walton.
Director Lieberman and screenwriter Tracy Tormé instead center on the fall out of the abduction, and the domino effect of chaos it has on everyone involved. Surely, Travis Walton was allegedly abducted, but when he disappears without a trace, the folks involved in the horrific event become accused killers and pariahs in their town. How do you explain someone disappearing without a single trace and not be deemed a potential murderer? By all accounts what occurs is spectacular, and absolutely horrifying, as we follow Walton and his friends during a work trip. When confronted with a UFO, Walton steps out to investigate and is struck with a paralyzing white beam from the sky. His friends and co-workers are horrified, stunned, and confused, and react very realistically for the most part.
Their motivations for self preservation are at least relatable, even if the audience will write off their actions as cowardly. Director Lieberman is able to stage some truly effective and terrifying moments of alien activity, with Travis Walton seemingly victimized before being abducted. Upon his discovery and recollections, Lieberman shifts between his flashbacks and reality, prompting an effective and very creepy series of scenes where Walton struggles for survival within the bowels of the ship he was abducted in. Though most of the details are kept ambiguous, due to the facts of the real story being hazy, “Fire in the Sky” achieves a very good balance between horror, drama, and mystery. There’s never really much of a full explanation about Walton’s experiences when the film ends, but it thankfully doesn’t destroy what’s an eerie and utterly creepy tale of alien abductions.