‘Sightings’ Wins With Horror And Heart [Review]
Editor’s Note: Sightings was a 2017 Official Selection at the 2nd Annual Halloween International Film Festival in Kill Devil Hills. The following review from OBX Entertainment guest correspondent Kip Tabb was submitted after the film’s local screening during the film festival on Oct. 26 at R/C Theatres, which was attended by Wilmington-based writer/director Dallas Morgan.
Our imagination is capable of creating our own terror—taking what we don’t see and manufacturing our own brand of fear.
Sightings, screened last month during the 2nd Annual Outer Banks Halloween International Film Festival, plays on that ability like the devil plucking on an angel’s harp.
Taking place in a small town in Texas, the movie superimposes images of a typical life upon the tension of a father and daughter whose mother has left them, and the horror of three bodies, eviscerated and bloodless, left in a field.
It’s Sheriff Tom Mayfield’s last day on the job. Mayfield is the sheriff everyone wishes they had in their town. Steady, unflappable, pleasant to everyone, he portrays an everyman hero.
But there are are problems on the ranch, the 200 acres where he and his daughter, Hannah live. The mother, Lillian, had walked out two years ago, and we learn in a series of intense flashbacks that she fled, fearing for her life from some unnamed source that could not be explained.
In the wake of her leaving, father and daughter are trapped in a relationship of simmering anger and resentment.
Strange sounds greet Tom on his first night of retirement, but nothing can be seen or found…until the next morning when three bodies, drained of blood with all their internal organs removed, are found in a field on his ranch.
The bodies are never seen. The shapes of the bodies are suggested; body bags are brought to the field, but what those bodies might have looked like is left to the imagination of the viewer.
Big city detective Brendan Pitney comes to investigate, and his suspicion of Tom adds to the tension. The suspicion is a natural outcome of events—Lillian never contacted anyone after she left, and Pitney makes it clear he thinks he knows why.
And still the noises continue, the sense that something lurks just beyond our sight, just beyond what we can perceive.
The three bodies we discover, come from disparate part of the country, women who had disappeared without a trace years ago. There is a common thread and it does lead back to the ranch, back to something so powerful that it knocks over a deer stand where Tom waits, stalking the mysterious thing that has come to his home.
An explanation does come at the end, but this mysterious being never makes a physical appearance. There are hints about what it is and what it may look like, but the reality is left to our imaginations.
This was director/producer Dallas Morgan’s first feature length film, and the performances he got from his actors, the pacing of the movie and the way he used the camera, mark him as a director to watch in the future.
The acting in particular was outstanding. Boo Arnold as Tom Mayfield gave a powerful, nuanced performance as a good decent man, terrified that he is losing his daughter. Tahlia Morgan, wife of the director, was excellent, at once resentful toward her father yet looking to him for protection and comfort.
Two others in particular deserve special mention—Kevin Sizemore as the city detective, Brendan Pitney; there were times you just wanted to ring his neck…which means he was doing his job as an actor. Tiffany Heath as Lillian Mayfield took a relatively small role and made it memorable.The flashback scenes explaining what was happening when she left and why were painful to watch in the right way.
According to Dallas Morgan, Sightings will be available on Netflix soon. Horror film fans, get the popcorn out.
Sightings won the award for Best Feature Film at the 2017 Halloween International Film Festival, held Oct. 26-28 in Kill Devil Hills. It will be available on various VOD (Video On Demand) services starting on Nov. 7.