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Lights Over Montgomery County (2023): A Different Take on Found Footage

Lights Over Montgomery County movie poster

I can’t say I am the biggest fan of horror movies, but there are a few that have definitely taken me by surprise or can say have thoroughly enjoyed. Such as cases like Last Night In Soho and Us. However, I can add to the list of surprises, Lights Over Montgomery County, with its different take on the found footage genre and alien sci-fi horror; taking me back to the “ALIENS” guy meme that is all over the Internet.

Documentary host Rick Davis (played by Michael Rock) and his crew find themselves in Montgomery County, Texas in search of a story. Tales of strange lights appearing in the area as well as unexplainable sightings of beings other than humans spike their curiosity. As the investigation moves forward, dark secrets involving local Artificial Intelligence and Aliens begin to intersect and it becomes clear no one is safe from the Lights that haunt Montgomery County.

When watching this film, it felt like a healthy combination of Paranormal Activity and The Mandela Catalogues; for those that don’t know what the Mandela Catalogues are, go watch Markiplier. Even though there is no supernatural element to this, the found footage style definitely pays homage to Paranormal Activity. Although they don’t use handheld cameras like in the aforementioned film, they do use a type that allows for a first person perspective that allows for the premise to heighten the viewers anxiety but not being able to see everything around them, even having an cloudy lens adds to the anxiety as you never know what will hop out for a jump scare. Which I will also say, the few jump scares they did have are rather traditional but nonetheless effective.

Now I know I’ve said this before, but I am still massively impressed by Michael Rock’s acting. Here, he plays Rick Davis, a host of a fictional show called “Textraterrestrial” who investigates the mysterious lights that are believed to be linked to UFO sightings. Unlike his previous roles in Tahoe Joe, The Flock and Ghost, Davis is not a veteran who has lost people around him. He is rather, a mostly ordinary guy. Rock plays Davis with a nonchalant, yet magnetic angle which makes him feel relatable and at the same time larger than life. Hell, I almost didn’t even recognize him during the first viewing! Additionally, it was a blast watching Dillon Brown as one of the interviewed guests who wanted to shoot the aliens with his crossbow (and having yet to succeed). It just goes to show just how much range Brown has not only as a director, but also as an actor.

Michael Rock in Lights Over Montgomery County

My only complaint for the film is its pacing. The first half was extremely slow. And while the second half was also a slow burn, it did a better job of keeping me at attention with the heightened anxiety levels of the unknown. But the first half played out like a typical conspiracy show you see on History Channel sometimes, not saying that it was out of place. But compared to the second half, it felt unnecessary to a degree, even though it was more of a build up to the fear-inducing second act. The said second act is where most of the story and mystery is. Even though I am not a complete fan of the first act of the film, the second act will definitely make me come back to repeat viewings to see if there was anything I missed.

Lights Over Montgomery County is not revolutionary in the horror genre, but it is unique in its take on found footage and alien subgenres. Its cinematography excels in establishing a terror and level of anxiety that I have rarely felt in horror movies and truly feels reminiscent of Paranormal Activity. Its atmosphere and tone on the other hand remind me of The Mandela Catalogues as it effectively uses a slow burn to heighten our fear of what we don’t see, even if the first half moves a little slow for my taste. Even despite its faults, there is something about Lights Over Montgomery County that makes me want to come back and revisit this movie, even if it is just to see if I missed anything on my first viewing.

Co-Written By: Michael Li

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