Big Sky Review
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The harsh conditions and vast barrenness of the desert can be daunting for anyone who’s traveling through. But the troubled teen in the indie thriller Big Sky isn’t just another traveler—and, in order to make it out, she’ll have to face her fear of wide-open spaces.

Big Sky journeys into the desert with Hazel (Bella Thorne), an agoraphobic teen who’s being forced to check into a treatment facility. Traveling to the facility in a specially-equipped van with her mom, Dee (Kyra Sedgwick), and three other patients, Hazel is safely hidden away when two masked men stop the van, killing most of its passengers in a kidnapping attempt gone wrong. When she emerges from her hiding place, Hazel finds that Dee has been shot—so, determined to save her mother, she sets out into the desert to overcome her fears and find help.

With its chilling circumstances and its stark and inhospitable backdrop, Big Sky sets viewers up for a gripping thriller—the breathtaking story of a terrified teen who’s forced to live out her own worst nightmare. But while it certainly has its tense and dramatic moments, it isn’t nearly as horrifying as it could be. In addition to confronting her debilitating agoraphobia, Hazel also battles both natural and human enemies in her quest to save her mother’s life. And though Thorne does a reasonable job of portraying the character, she isn’t given a whole lot to work with.

Hazel seems to overcome her fears a little too quickly. It takes her no time at all to decide to set out into the desert—and though she’s clearly anxious about taking those first steps, she moves forward without much hesitation. She may have a few difficult moments along the way, but they’re definitely not what you’d expect from a girl who can’t travel unless she’s packed neatly away inside a dark, enclosed space.

The rest of the story, meanwhile, is thin and underdeveloped. The kidnapping plot seems more like filler than an important part of the action—just a way to set up the story and give it a hint of urgency. And while Hazel and Dee are both interesting characters, we get to know very little about them.

Though it had the potential to be a terrifying psychological thriller, Big Sky is surprisingly light on thrills. It does have a few tense moments—as well as plenty of promising characters—but, for the most part, it’s sluggish and unremarkable.

Ed. Note: Big Sky is currently showing in select theaters, but it’s also available for on-demand viewing through outlets like Amazon Instant Video.

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