Unmistakable Abrams references adorn the film, from the fright- inducing string section, to the character of the police deputy, Jack Lamb (Kyle Chandler), who believes he has to save his small town community. However, it is with the nods to co-producer Steven Spielberg's early career that the film really strikes gold. As a result, a viewer's own memories of a by-gone era may connect with the adolescence being portrayed on screen and this works to produce some moments of nostalgic film magic.
The story within a story technique is skillfully revealed, as a group of school friends uncover a dark secret whilst capturing their own feature film on a primitive 8mm camera. Convincing performances by Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning serve to cement interest in an intriguing story, which shows JJ Abrams at his assured best.
**** out of ******
(Rated 12 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some drug use.)