THE ORBS! What are they? Balls of floating, glowing lights, zipping in and out of sight, like an apparition, obvious but not to be seen! Where did they come from–the moon, outer space, or someplace farther away, perhaps the center of our universe? Or, maybe they come from nowhere that is real–possibly the recesses of our overactive minds, wanting something bigger than reality. Do they have a mind of their own, controlling us, or do they come from within us, as manifestations of who we really are? Are they a mystery we experience, only to feel special in the vastness of time and space? Otherwise, are we just “psycho babble steaming live on the net?” These are just some of the questions I asked as I watched The Orbs late one night, when I should have been in bed.
“Our findings on the moon were beyond anything we had ever dreamed, and it became clear that the work must continue, but that it had to be done in a top secret way….You don’t ask to be a part of this program. You basically get an offer you can’t refuse….” ~ Wilbur
Orbs are often part of paranormal fame in their frequency of appearing in photographs, particularly those taken at locations said to be haunted. I myself have photographed orbs more than once, and more than once wondered what they really are. For the logical thinkers out there, orbs are nothing more than particles of floating dust, reflecting light in some weird way that doesn’t seem obvious to the naked eye–unless you are one who believes in something bigger. Are the orbs in The Orbs the subject of paranormal popularity? Although I’m not sure, I tend to think not–that is unless the paranormal also exists on the moon and in space, and aliens are also involved. Yes, these are instead UFOs (unidentified flying orbs) of the Close Encounters/Project Blue Book kind. Agents Mulder and Scully, it’s time to reopen those files!
Getting paranormal notions out of the way, we can now get further into the orbs as objects in the movie. These orbs are first encountered by astronauts on an unofficial trip to the moon, looking for wreckage from a former mission that was also top secret. Yes, this was a mission after Apollo 17 (Apollo 21, to be exact) not known to the public. On that mission, anomalies (and yes, orbs) are seen, making the sci-fi theme solid from the start. Years later, the main character, Wilbur, still experiences orbs, while living with his wife in a secluded location, away from everyone. Who provides everything he and his wife need, whether it be good, bad, addicting or deadly? Why is the government watching Wilbur and his wife’s every move? (Or, why does Wilbur think so?) Take a guess. You’ll probably be right! Yes! It seems that all orbs are the type we’re not supposed to know about!
Wilbur (Patrick G. Keenan) is the former astronaut/main character of The Orbs. Keenan is perfect as the bitter victim of top-secret service gone wrong, and the resulting loss of a career he loved–being, as he says, “stripped of my honorable rank and position in the service and so wrongfully kicked out on my ass.” Mentally ripe with conspiracy theories and paranoia galore, Wilbur is the sort of crazy genius we want to believe, no matter what our better judgement tells us. Keenan delivers a sarcasm that is beyond perfect, keeping the dialogue (and his monologues) endlessly entertaining and humorous, regardless of the plot….and the orbs. (I’d seriously like to see Keenan in a comedy, as well!) It’s not just his lines; it’s also the tone of his voice and body language, giving Wilbur’s wit ever more personality and punch. Yes! Thanks to Keenan, it’s a knockout; as viewers we’re down for the count!
“It’s a still night out there with psycho babble streaming live on the net and certain other frequencies, until they stop me.” ~ Wilbur
Wilbur’s wife Lorraine is played by model, singer and actress Christy Johnson. Johnson nails her part as the prematurely-cantankerous wife no man wants, while seriously downplaying the real-life beauty she is (Yes, SJR will bet it’s last tank of hydrogen you’ll agree with that!) Loraine, as played by Johnson, is the type of woman every man would die for (at any age) for her physical beauty; but, with her behavior, she is a woman who would drive any man to suicide or murder. Addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs, Loraine is even more of a man’s worst nightmare. Johnson’s skill at sparring with Keenan makes her a perfect match and a true equal as a costar, rivaling the main character for top billing in every scene. She is dramatic, captivating and equally witty, pulling viewers in and holding on every time. With just the right performance, Johnson gives her character life beyond the pages of the script. She’s a director’s dream, making The Orbs impossible to forget. I’d watch the whole movie again, just to see Christy Johnson! Speaking of her, Johnson’s music and modeling photos are also not to be missed! Trust me! Check out the links below for more! In The Orbs, it’s Johnson’s beauty that can’t be hidden, even beneath her onscreen character, that makes Loraine a woman most men would take their chances with, happily. With Loraine, sanity is a crap shoot but, with Johnson, it’s worth the gamble!
The relationship between Wilbur and Loraine rivals the movie’s plot priority–the mystery behind the orbs. The two have an endless war of words that, as I said, steals the show throughout. As much as their differences keep them at odds, their similarities keep them together. Loraine is relentless in nagging Wilbur for what she wants like a spoiled child addicted to indulgence (as well as drugs and alcohol), and Wilbur is relentless at denying her needs, as long as possible. Yes, in a weird, self-entertaining way, Wilbur loves prolonging the pain, possibly to offset banality otherwise. But, are they unlike so many couples in real life, haunted or not by visions of orbs? Not at all! Instead, they are an ironic cliche of the typical couple, together in a pathological dysfunction that feeds their addictions. As I watched The Orbs, I thought (and I believe overthought) their relationship, trying to find a connection to the floating lights. But, I couldn’t find one. And, there doesn’t need to be one! It’s all fine (and quite normal), as it is!
Two of the most interesting and surprising scenes in the movie involve a talking mirror image of each character. First, Wilbur is confronted by himself in the mirror, giving him advice as a calmer, far wiser version of himself. Later, Loraine encounters her own better side in her reflection, urging her to make similar but contrasting decisions. Each doppelganger, while seemingly more sensible and rational, also conspires against the double’s spouse. These parallel self confrontations, while inconspicuous individually, are suggestive of something far different and malicious in tandem. They make us wonder, yet again, just how extensive The Orbs (and the aliens), have their luminous logic entangled in the plot. Are these mirror image doubles controlled by the orbs, the aliens or government-surveillance? Or, are they hallucinations seen only in the minds of two mentally disturbed misfits, spiraling into self-destruction…and worse? Since the movie never reveals the truth, it is left up to the mind of the viewer. Only in science fiction would this work so well, just as it does here. Yes, less is more again!
“Oh, Wilbur! Sometimes in the brink of despair, you drive me from the darkness of your words just as easily as you take me there.” ~ Loraine
Warren Ray (also the film’s assistant director) plays the lieutenant aboard the mission that first encountered the orbs. Although his role is a generic cameo by design, Ray delivers a performance that actually stands out. Why? He is memorable in the way he plays his character straight and natural, as one of only three aboard the ship. What’s better is that his acting is not overdone, as it would be by those looking for more out of limited screen time. Rather than an actor, he is convincingly a lieutenant aboard a space ship. I actually met Warren Ray at the 2014 Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. While photographing Warren and actress Missy Dawn (star of Pig Girl), I caught, on camera, one of the extraterrestrial orbs occurring in the movie. Below is the photograph I took. Amazing! 😀
What about aliens? “Are there any in The Orbs?” you ask. I am happy to say, “Yes, indeed!” And a great thanks to the special effects crew for creating aliens so “alien,” rather than human! Glimpses of these E.T.s (anything but the Spielberg type) are all we get, but all the more effective they are, again, seen less. Against a background of darkness, someplace we don’t know, is all we need to wonder more. Gnarly teeth, sunken eyes, and an over-sized head are more than enough features to make them less than friendly. Oh, and the wicked device they use (for we can only imagine what) looks straight from the inquisition–that is, one yet to come! What do these aliens have to do with The Orbs? I couldn’t tell you, even if I knew. The government is watching me too! 😀
“[The universe] sang to me up there in the heavens, as it surrounds our world in its magnificence.” ` Wilbur
Speaking of aliens, it’s a mystery as to who exactly the aliens are. In a post-mission interrogation scene involving a young Wilbur (David Joy), voices that could be human or otherwise talk in garbled tones, adding more to the unknown. Is this just the way Wilbur remembers the event, drugged and altered? Yes! We wonder further. Are the watchers really human at all? The men in black might instead be the men from beyond (and not men at all). Here, more mystery gives The Orbs yet greater complexity and more intrigue.
I must give 10 Space Jockey rockets to the writer, Jesse H. Knight. The Orbs, without a doubt, has some of the wittiest dialogue and monologue I’ve heard in a movie. It’s intelligent, thought-provoking, and (if you’re like me and you like to take it all in), it’s downright hard to keep up with at times. I actually had to rewind more than a few times to listen to some of it again. But, unlike many films, where words are too often unimportant cliches, here they are well worth hearing again. Kudos to Patrick G. Keenan and Christy Johnson for memorizing it all, and doing a stellar job delivering it so smoothly! Yes! Thanks to this actor/writer trio, it all works perfectly! Without such talent and commitment, even the best lines are just words. But, even with the best actors, mediocre lines keep everything…mediocre. Jesse H. Knight’s script, along with Keenan’s and Johnson’s skill, keep everything outstanding.
“Was Apollo 17 the last mission or not? We’ve got a special guest tonight who can help to answer that very question. Me!” ~ Wilbur
The IMDb listing for The Orbs lists the estimated budget at $5,000.00. WOW! Although it’s a lower budget movie, it’s appearance and visual effects overall deceive us well. And, in this case, deception is a good thing, indeed! The orbs looked as good as orbs can look, in whatever way real orbs are supposed to look. As mentioned earlier, the aliens looked great, more detailed than expected for their time on screen. The rocket-launch scene was less realistic, but in much the same way things are remembered in dreams, more surrealistic than real. Science fiction is especially hard to do on a lower budget, for obvious reasons. Often, it requires sets, props, costumes and more that are different from everything available. To be done right, it costs extra. The Orbs manages to overcome the limitations, looking bigger than it’s money allows! Excellent!
As for what the orbs are, don’t ask me. I don’t know, and I don’t give a damn. If I knew, if the movie had gone as far as to reveal the mystery, I wouldn’t like the it as much. As it is, I am forever intrigued by the unknown in The Orbs as I am with it in life. So, in the end, can I answer any of the questions I asked in the beginning? Probably not. But, sometimes, there is a method to the madness, and that’s exactly what there is here–madness, mystery, metaphysical mayhem, and more! (Yes! Don’t you just love it when the alliteration works out so well?) 😀
“I aim to disturb – to wake you up, before it’s too late!” ~ Wilbur
The Orbs is an interstellar orbit through space, the mind, and all things in between, to places we dare go only in dreams; in nightmares, it haunts us as any good movie should. Blasting into our subconscious, The Orbs takes us to another universe, to the genre’s fresher, more luminescent places. So, don’t waste another atomic second! See The Orbs, if you can, before they disappear. Try your hand (or your mind) at figuring out what they are, where they came, and what the hell they’re doing on Earth. As for the ending, I’m not about to tell you! If you can tell me, PLEASE leave your thoughts here, in the comments below! One way or another, you, me, Wilbur and Loraine will figure this thing out…hopefully before they stop us! 😀
THE ORBS stars Patrick G. Keenan, Christy Johnson, Warren Ray and David Joy, directed by Jesse H. Knight and Warren Ray, written by Jesse H. Knight, with cinematography by Jason Ledford , special effects by Chao Vang and Nhia Vang, and a music score by Cutshawkane. The movie is produced by Jaysen P. Buterin, Matt Cloude, Jesse H. Knight, from JK Films.
Check out the official trailer for The Orbs, below! “I’ve seen you see them!”