The horror movie Phoenix Forgotten is incredibly easy to summarize: The Blair Witch Project with aliens in the desert instead of a witch in the woods.  This found-footage horror movie often copies The Blair Witch Project but doesn't improve or add anything to the genre.

Phoenix Forgotten is shot as two different hand-held camera movies.  In the present, Sophie (Florence Hartigan) returns to her home in Phoenix, Arizona to shoot a documentary.  Back in 1997, at Sophie's sixth birthday party everyone saw a series of lights in a V formation appear and move in the sky.  Sophie's teenage brother Josh (Luke Spencer Roberts) -- who always has a camcorder with him and loves science fiction -- is convinced the lights are aliens.  He recruits friends Ashley (Chelsea Lopez) and Mark (Justin Matthews) to interview people and eventually head into the desert; after the latter, they were never seen again.  Sophie interviews the teens' parents (even hers), police officers, politicians, and even folks in the Air Force to try to figure out what happened to her brother and his friends.
The other "found footage" is from the camcorder recordings John was always making.  Most of it was benign interviews with folks in the town.  This being a horror movie, the "final" tape surfaces, showing what happened to the three teens.
There's very little to like in Phoenix Forgotten.  The characters are one-dimensional, the movie really copies far too much from The Blair Witch Project (from recurring symbols and hand prints to a finale set in an empty house and the recording device on its side) and delivers few scares beyond mystery sounds in the distance and odd ailments affecting the teens.  And a postscript trying to link the movie to real-life events feels a bit desperate.  This isn't a terrible movie, but it's not far off.  Pass.

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch

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