Sky Peals is a multi-faceted look at the concept of alienation. The film follows Adam, a downtrodden young man going through the everyday motions of life, work and an attempt at socialisation. He receives word of his father’s passing, prompting a series of strange occurrences that lead him to suspect his father might not have been human after all. A surprisingly grounded story that touches on extraterrestrial life, Sky Peals explores the nuances of the word “alien”, such as feelings of isolation, the idea of belonging versus being an outsider, the clash of different cultures within biracial children, feelings of stagnation, and finding purpose and reasons to keep going.
Adam’s isolation is strongly emphasised in the way the film is shot, such as the use of symmetry and centre-framing, alongside slow zoom-ins and zoom-outs. There’s also a persistent focus on white and background noises, such as voices heard through the phone, amplified sounds of machinery and heavy breathing. This combination opens up space within the screen that reminds viewers of the empty world Adam lives in. But it also closes it up to evoke a sense of suffocation in the never-ending cycle of Adam’s tedious routine. Aside from his mother and co-workers, he has no other human interaction; being alone is a major talking point of Sky Peals. Adam expresses the need for human touch and attention when he says, “Some people just don’t want to be alone.” This heavily contrasts his father’s reasons for leaving: “Sometimes though, it’s just easier on your own.” As Adam tries to reconcile the divide between these two very different approaches, he begins to understand his own humanity.
The sci-fi aspect is expressed through flashing lights, overstimulation of the senses and a fast transition between reality and Adam’s wavering perception of the events occurring around him. The confusion between what’s real and not is very similar to Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. There are also subliminal messages all across the different sets that allude to Adam’s father leaving Earth, with posters with messages like “Enjoy the rest of your journey” and the use of a bridge to connect one world to another. It’s all so simple, yet effective in drawing out emotion – because audience members can understand that innate feeling of wanting to drop everything and leave when things get a little too overwhelming. It’s a very easy line to cross, with the journey beyond Earth carrying implications of death and possible suicide. It’s this interplay between life, death and a world outside of Earth, balanced and grounded by human motivations of self-preservation and loneliness, that makes the film such a compelling exploration of human behaviour.
Sky Peals does something wonderful with its play on the trend of extraterrestrial life in our culture. By focusing on a father and son relationship, and exploring alienation in all its different forms, what might’ve been another cog in the sci-fi machine turns into a lesson in understanding, accepting and finding more reasons to keep going in a world full of uncertainties.
Sky Peals does not have a UK release date yet.
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