Adam, the lead character in “Skyquake” is clearly damaged. We are quickly introduced to his routine, which centers around grooming, listening to self help gurus, dental hygiene, artsy photography and cardio. Also, half hearted attempts at suicide. Early on, we see him dry shave his eyebrows. This sort of dedication to his craft is an admirable quality to Sandy Robson, who stars as Adam (he serves as a writer/director, too, making this something of a singular vision). Eventually, one of Adam’s barefoot jogs through the woods surrounding his secluded home are interrupted by the Inception “bwaaaaaah” sound effect, causing Adam a lot of distress. A mysterious woman (Bronwen Smith) that delivers food to Adam’s home takes interest in Adam’s claims of being attacked by a strange force in the woods. She later returns with research on the phenomenon (dubbed skyquakes by the internet), which leads Adam down a path of self discovery.
While many micro budget horror films are clearly lazy cash grabs looking to exploit a loyal audience, some manage to be earnest. That’s something Sandy Robson’s “Skyquake” has going for it. It’s sincere almost to a fault. There’s no winking at the camera, and every scene is swinging for the fences in terms of acting. Though I found myself getting a bit frustrated by a meandering story (the film’s structure relies heavily on Adam’s OCD, which leads to a lot of repetition), and nearly all attempts at horror stumble, it was clear this was made by people that have talent and give a damn, which is refreshing after dreck like Sledgehammer.
Robson uses meager locations and a compact cast much better than most first time filmmakers; perhaps in his time spent as an actor (he has a pretty impressive IMDB page) he paid attention to how people behind the camera do their jobs. Skyquake is professionally shot and acted, but ultimately comes across as an overly long student film, pushing hard with melodrama and twists to evoke emotions in the viewer.
I understand the impulse for Robson to create a project for himself to star in, in order to showcase his skill as an actor. To that end, he was quite successful. While this isn’t a good movie, it does have solid, professional acting in it. It’s tough to recommend this to the average Jane or Joe looking for a scary movie to enjoy. However, if you’re a director looking to cast a well rounded, but a mostly undiscovered actor, this film proves Sandy Robson might be your guy. I’d like to see what this team could do with a better fleshed out script.
Craig is a co host of the Half Assed Horrorcast. His writing about horror has appeared on Bloody Good Horror, Fanboy Report and other places. Find him on twitter @4colorcraig.