SPOILER ALERT: This review does contain a few spoilers, but they detract do not detract from the viewing experience.
What is the Sean Miller Story
I started watching Holes in the Sky: The Sean Miller Story without any prior knowledge of the film. The title implies that it’s a documentary; it became apparent after the first 30 minutes that this was, in fact, a mockumentary. Perhaps it’s better to call it a found footage horror film, actually. The Holes in the Sky is available on our favorite streaming service, Tubi, right now! Tubi’s blurb reads “a shoot detailing the 2013 alien abduction of Sean Miller turns into a life-changing experience for everyone involved as events spiral out of control.”
The movie begins with a call to 911 in April of 2020, which would set the action around the beginning of Covid lockdown. From this point on, the movie jumps back and forth between footage from the five-day investigation and current interviews with survivors of the 2020 incident. The movie is a bit vague at first regarding the events of Sean’s initial disappearance, but eventually the plot reveals that Sean Miller was missing for four days in 2013, with strange phenomena following him ever since.
Filmmaker Ash Hamilton hears of Sean’s story through social media, and heads to rural Illinois to spend five days filming Sean and his wife. (Why are so many movies about aliens set in the Midwest? Are crop circles really such a big deal?). The other two members of the crew are Chantell (Ash’s wife) and Brett, the camera operator. Brett, who looks like a young Joe Bob Briggs, has recently gone through a tragedy involving his wife and son. Ash offers to let him sit the investigation out, but Brett says that he has nowhere else to be.
Once the crew gets settled in and starts filming, the action starts almost immediately. The equipment malfunctions. Kitchenware flies off walls. Everyone starts seeing unexplainable phenomena–for instance, Brett sees someone outside who looks like himself jumping onto the roof. At one point it seemed more likely that Sean was the victim of a demonic possession. The movie monsters/aliens are able to appear like the characters’ lost loved ones. These clones had what looked like bean dip coming out of their orifices, similar to Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
At last, the movie reveals the context of the 911 call: the gang is trapped in Sean’s house by a group of beings who run onto the roof. Sean goes outside to investigate, and Brett and Ash follow. Ash witnesses Brett being “beamed up”. He tries to save him, but alas, cannot hold on.
I appreciate that the filmmakers kept footage of the aliens distant and blurry–one of my pet peeves is when horror movies reveal the antagonist too early in the plot, and too often. Sometimes, what’s left to your imagination is what’s scariest.
I love horror movies that make the most of a limited budget, but I still had low expectations. Alien movies have never really been my thing. This movie appeared to have a higher budget compared to Ash’s other work, but is still definitely in the realm of indie films.
Editor Note: When Ash reached out to us he mentioned that he made the film for $700!
Once I saw the inside of the director’s office, I became excited because Ash has one of THE BEST collections of horror paraphernalia I’ve ever seen. He also promoted his past horror films (which look delightfully campy), as well as the website for his production company. The website boasts that Holes in the Sky has won more awards for a found footage movie than The Blair Witch Project (the site lists all 19, if anyone cares to fact-check).
The main issue I had with the movie is that the scene with Brett being “taken” was extremely melodramatic. In the scene immediately preceding it, Ash apologizes to Brett for not saying what he needed to say after his family tragedy. The monologue may have been better served in an earlier part of the movie, honestly. I’m also not entirely sure that the effect with Brett being pulled into the sky was necessary. .
Honestly, the special effects in this movie were not bad. Obviously the audio and video were not of the highest quality, but that made it all the more believable. Most if not all of the footage was filmed on phone cameras, but that added to the found footage charm. I watched the movie with headphones on, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the movie has surround sound.
The acting was surprisingly good. Sean seemed perpetually nervous and exhausted. The banter among the crew was charming and felt natural. Ash and Chantell appear to have aged significantly since the footage was shot in 2020 (I mean this entirely as a compliment. Not all actors can pull off playing a survivor of a traumatic event). Brett’s confessionals seemed especially haunted, which came in handy later in the film. It seemed like Brett wasn’t resisting the abduction–perhaps he was hoping to find his lost family.
There were a few awkward moments where there was a long gap with no audio or video, but it wasn’t bothersome. Some small continuity issues are present, but they don’t detract from the experience. Overall, Holes in the Sky is a solid good time. The movie showed just enough of the aliens to give me palpitations, and the surround sound added to the ambience. The film has no ratings on Tubi or Rotten Tomatoes, but lands at 5.8 on IMdB.
I give it a solid rating due to the filmmakers making the best of a very limited budget–the characters were believable, and the story was familiar without feeling stale. The plot moved along without many slow parts, but still had a bit of comic relief with the crew banter.
The first time I tried to watch this movie, my headphones malfunctioned and I could not get the audio to work. The second time, the video kept freezing. More than likely I just need to get a new laptop, but it was a fun coincidence having my A/V issues mirror that of the characters of the film.
Perhaps I, too, will be seeing holes in the sky.