Hazel (Bella Thorne) only feels safe in small places. Her mother, Dee (Kyra Sedgwick), has helped mitigate the fears for as long as she can. Now at 18, Hazel is being forced go to to a psychiatric hospital in the desert so that she and her mother don’t lose their home due to a father who cares very little for his own family now that he is remarried. In order to make the trek to the desert, the hospital sends a special van, complete with a compartment for Hazel to stay in alone during the long trip. Dee goes along for the ride in order to keep her daughter calm. Several other passengers board the bus, including a failed golf pro, an investment banker and the kleptomaniac heiress of a small fortune. The van is overtaken by two masked gunmen. After killing most of the passengers, the thieves drive off with the heiress. Hazel face her fears and crawls from her safe box in the back to discover that her mother is dangerously wounded and needs help. Hazel forces back her anxiety of large spaces and begins to trek the desert for help.
Big Sky was an interesting premise that needed far less desert scenery. While each scene with Hazel struggling to overcome mental illness for survival was interesting, there were quite a few shots in the film that seemed overlong just in the nature of being more artistic. Bella Thorne is strong as a mentally ill girl, but there seems so little for her to do as she treks across the desert. She injures herself, comes across a crazy half-naked man with a disassembled motorhome and makes friends with two trash collectors. Describing this it seems more like a comedy, but the stark images of Hazel’s fear and her need to keep herself so tightly bound quickly dispels any space for humor. Kyra Sedgwick is strong as Dee, but I also wished there was more for her to do than sit around and bleed.
Big Sky is available on VOD and select theaters August 14, 2015.