Synopsis: A woman with a mysterious illness is forced into action when a group of terrorists attempt to hijack a transatlantic overnight flight. In order to protect her son she will have to reveal a dark secret, and unleash the vampire within that she fought to hide.
Stars: Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch, Kais Setti, Alexander Scheer, Roland Møller, Dominic Purcell, Graham McTavish
Director: Peter Thorwarth
Running Length: 121 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: I feel like in July, Netflix is giving me everything I’ve ever wanted short of a shark attack musical starring Sharon Stone. Really, first that glorious Fear Street trilogy which started strong, built momentum, then brought it all together in a wonderful finale, and now Blood Red Sky. Combining two of my favorite subgenres, the vampire horror film and the airplane disaster action film, this German/UK co-production is touching down at the perfect time when there is a tiny lull in blockbuster theatrical releases. While it has no name stars and Netflix isn’t marketing it as well as they should, they are sitting on what could be a sleeper hit for their streaming service because this is one rocker shocker of a film that delivers endlessly from takeoff to landing.
As the film opens, a large airliner is unsteadily touching down at an airport where an array of tactical teams awaits its arrival. After landing, one passenger exits from the baggage compartment while another sits in the cockpit in a sniper’s crosshairs. Where is the crew? What happened to the other passengers? There are definitely answers and both of the individuals have what we’re looking for…but first we have to find out how we got here. To do that, screenwriters Stefan Holtz and Peter Thorwarth (who also directed) take us back several hours to before the plane took off from Germany.
Young Elias (Carl Anthon Koch) checks in for a transatlantic flight from Germany to New York for both himself and his mother Nadja (Peri Baumeister). She’s too ill to accompany him to the airport until just before the flight takes off later that evening because she’s suffering from a rare condition that has left her bald and requires an injection at regular intervals. The two board the flight with the other passengers, taking off with little incident and settle in for the overnight flight which crosses time zones and will land in New York under a cloak of evening darkness. What no one knows is that hidden amongst the passengers is a large team of terrorists who plan to hijack the plane and crash it into London, hoping to create another international incident that sends the stock market into a panic.
Midway through their flight, the terrorists (several of which come from unlikely places) stage their attack and during the struggle Nadja is shot and left for dead out of view of the other passengers. Yet Nadja isn’t dead now. She’s been dead before…and for a while. Further flashbacks show us the snowy night when Elias was just a baby and Nadja encountered a terrifying creature along with her husband after their car broke down. The creature that scratched her. The creature she now is. The creature that has been unleashed now that she’s missed her regular dose of medicine.
There’s quite a lot of fun to be had in Blood Red Sky and it all depends on how much you are willing to kick your shoes off and enjoy yourself. If you’re going to overanalyze the movie on the merits of reality, you should probably go watch Air Force One or Executive Decision, both excellent films. If you are a Snakes on a Plane kind of person or don’t mind some CGI mayhem injected into the mix, by all means come on over and check this out. The more animalistic Nadja gets, the crazier Blood Red Sky becomes and just when you think Thorwarth has taken things to their limit, he pushes the boundary again. Surprisingly, it all goes down smoothly and though the stakes are continually raised (often exponentially) it doesn’t even approach exhausting…. it’s rather thrilling.
A lot of this is owed to Baumeister’s almost mesmerizing work as this ever-evolving creature. Helped along with make-up, it’s the physicality that Baumeister possesses underneath it all that sells it in the end. Like the White Spikes created for The Tomorrow War on Amazon Prime, the vampiric creature SFX in Blood Red Sky are incredibly impressive and, without spoiling anything, plentiful. The production design was another high point, with the airline set being both believably spacious and cramped when called for.
Along with Baumeister, Koch is handed a lot of emotional material to work, and he acquits himself nicely. The character is inherently a bit of a handful, always getting into some kind of mess, but Koch at least doesn’t get too obnoxious in the process. As a fellow passenger and ally, Kais Setti gets the right message across by looking past the creature features of his aisle mate and Roland Møller (Land of Mine) is bit of a big dumb fun as a terrorist who is more annoyed with his fellow team members than the gnashing monster tracking them all down. The prize of the film is without question Alexander Scheer’s demented hijacker, first taking pride in gruesomely killing hostages before finding benefit in Nadja’s powers…. you can tell Scheer is a go-for-broke performer and it’s exactly what the role calls for.
Blood Red Sky could (and should) be one of those titles that hover at the top of the Top 10 list on Netflix for a long while, long enough for people to be curious enough to give it a go or for word of mouth to spread. It’s far above average and leveled-up entertainment that would have been good enough to play in theaters but instead is available right now at home. I’ll still be waiting for Netflix fulfill my last request of that Sharon Stone outer space shark musical but for now…Blood Red Sky will more than fit the bill for my genre wish list.