In the sleepy little town Lillian, Ohio during 1979, Charles Kaznyk is all geared up to shoot a movie using a Super 8 camera. He plans to take part in an upcoming competition. His close friend Joe Lamb(Joel Courtney) is handling the special effects. Joe recently lost his mother due to a freak accident at the nearby factory. His dad Deputy Jackson Lamb(Kyle Chandler) and Joe are still coping with the tragedy. Charles is worried about the production values for the movie as the competition is fierce. He decides to film crucial scenes at a remote train station. He has also asked Alice Dainard(Elle Fanning) to play a critical role in his movie. On hearing Alice's name, Joe is excited as he harbors a secret crush on her.
When Alice arrives on her dad's car to take Joe, Charles and others to the shooting site, she is at first reluctant to proceed with the plan because of the hatred between their respective fathers. But, they soon become comfortable with each other at the shooting site. When the cameras are rolling, a train pass by. Before the train passes the station, it meets with an accident with an oncoming truck resulting in destruction of the train and the station. The shooting crew narrowly escapes death. They find their Biology teacher still alive inside the truck who warns them against talking to anyone regarding this incident. Very soon, USAF personnel arrive at the location. Before they are spotted, Joe, Alice and their friends escape with the camera and the film rolls.
The next day, the train crash is shown on the TV networks. Despite the best attempts from Jackson, the USAF personnel do not divulge the contents of the train. They do not even share the shipping manifest. Joe, Elle and their friends resume their normal lives. They even go shooting their amateur movie using the search operation by the USAF as the backdrop of their movie. But, there are mysterious events in the town. Humans, animals and machines disappear. The innocent group of teenagers stumble on something bigger and wilder than their imagination.
JJ Abrams directs this thriller whose script has all the necessary elements of a typical Hollywood movie. The most interesting part of the movie is the unfolding of the events from the teenager's perspective. Their calm life is threatened by the mysterious events in their quiet little town. But on the flip side, the movie is reminiscent of many other successful movies in the past. It mostly brings in a deja-vu from Steven Spielberg movies. This is not surprising as the movie is associated with Amblin which Spielberg's production outfit.
Elle Fanning stands out with her portrayal as Alice. She displays her versatility during the filming of the movie within the movie and also during the tender moments with Joe.
Go for this if you are left with no other options at the movies. Otherwise, wait for the DVD.