In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth – something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.
There’s no question about it. J. J. Abrams is a director who knows how to tell an interesting story in film and give us characters which we care about, believable characters that are much more than cardboard cut-outs. The teens in this film include a girl named Alice Dainard (played by Elle Fanning) who acts for a friend in his Super 8 zombie movie and she is quite good; in fact, she moves the teen guys to tears. The truth is, real-life actress Elle Fanning (younger sister to Dakota) is very talented with a promising future. In addtion the other teens in the film include Joe Lamb (actor Joel Courtney) who recently lost his mother in this story, and he tries to keep a relationship going with his father, Jackson (Kyle Chandler), who is gone all the time as he conducts his job as local deputy sheriff. In a touching moment, young Joe catches his father in the bathroom crying, as he still misses his wife. Like Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney is another very talented young actor with a promising future. It should be noted this story takes place in 1979. One “gnarly” comment sure took me back!
We learn later in the movie that Alice’s father, local trouble-maker with a bad attitude, Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard), missed work because of a drunken binge and Joe’s mother died in an accident after being called in to fill in for him. It is these kinds of sub-plots which humanize the story. In addition, we learn the creature which wreaks havoc in this film is mean and nasty for a reason and the ending of this picture will remind you of another movie about an extra-terrestrial from the early eighties.
Now, for the not-so-good news, this movie is loaded with so many profanities throughout that I finally lost count. And a lot of the language comes from the teenagers. In addition, we see the teens driving without driver’s licenses, and with no repercussions. This is, in my opinion, terribly irresponsible and shame on the filmmakers for this serious infraction. There is a character in the movie who smokes marijuana and he is a chaperone to the kids and drives them. It should be noted too that the film is loaded with jump scenes and sudden sounds and quick movements on screen will no doubt scare the dickens out of some. Regrettably, despite a fast-paced and intriguing story, we cannot award this movie our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.