Blood Red Sky Pits a Vampire Against Hijackers and Almost Lives Up to That Killer Concept – Gizmodo

Dont make her angry. You wouldnt like her when shes angry.Image: Netflix

Blood Red Sky begins with a frame storyan aircraft makes a wobbly landing in Scotland as troops gather belowbefore introducing us to a mother and son preparing to travel from Germany to New York. Shes obviously gravely ill and hopes that a specialist in America can cure her. However, as anyone whos seen the trailer or even read the movies ominous title can guess, this journey is going to get complicated. Horrifically complicated.

At two hours, Blood Red Sky is overly lengthy. This becomes more obvious as the movie drags on, but it doesnt waste any time getting to its first big story beat, as hijackers take control of the plane and set it on a new path. The hijackers all kind of blend together, except for the hulking yet reasonable guy played by Legends of Tomorrows Dominic Purcell, and the seriously, how did nobody vet this trigger-happy maniac? guy played by veteran German actor Alexander Scheer. Their criminal motivations are never quite explained, which is easy enough to let slide in the name of MacGuffin; really, theyre only part of the movie because we need a reason for Nadja (Peri Baumeister) to reveal the malady thats inspired her to nervously board this overnight flight (a travel decision thats reminiscent of Only Lovers Left Alive, a very different film in the same genre): shes a vampire! Specifically, a self-loathing vampire who believes shes evil. Though she craves blood as all vampires do, shes determined not to pass that evil along to anyone else.

Dominic Purcell is good at those Im a villain but also still a decent enough guy character types.Image: Netflix

Since Nadjas condition has been heavily foreshadowed, its exciting anticipating the moment when shell show her true face and start fighting back against well-armed thugs who arent just threatening the life of her son, Elias (Carl Anton Koch), but a plane full of innocent passengers. Those passengers include Farid (Kais Setti), a physicist who befriends Elias, and a few notables like a snobby asshole who harasses the flight attendant. Most, though, are harder to distinguishthis is a jam-packed transatlantic flight, after all. Still, theres a certain amount of class divide that emerges as chaos begins to build, similar to what happens when the zombie outbreak begins in Train to Busan.

While Blood Red Sky is clearly a vampire talewe get the backstory on how Nadja became infected, and theres the expected aversion to sunlight, the magical healing powers, the sprouting of fangs, times it does have a zombie movie feel. Director Peter Thorwarth, who co-wrote with Stefan Holtz (the original idea came to Thorwarth while on an overnight flight from Europe to the U.S.) wisely makes use of every conceivable inch of the plane set, with the cockpit, the cargo hold, the various cabins, and even the bathrooms helping to make things feel appropriately claustrophobicbut not too limiting in terms of the amount of running, hiding, chasing, and brawling necessary to serve the story.

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If all of this sounds potentially campy, its not; Blood Red Sky is played mostly straight, though there is one great moment when Farid points out that they cant convey the real situation aboard to the waiting military on the ground, because, well, whos gonna believe an explanation involving vampires? Most of the surprisingly serious tone comes courtesy of the relationship between Nadja and Elias; Baumeister gives a fierce, physical performance, but also manages to make sobbing while in full vampire make-up (blood-drenched, no hair, pointy ears, pointier teeth) feel genuinely moving. On the other hand, Elias is one of those child characters defined by his repeated inability to obey his mother and other adults (even in life-or-death situations when there are, like, trigger-happy hijackers and thirsty vampires running wild); this helps propel the plot but sure makes the kid come off as kinda bratty.

Girl, same.Image: Netflix

If Blood Red Sky sometimes gets too caught up in angst, at least it tries to make the viewer invested in Nadjas plight. The movie also squeezes in a little commentary about xenophobia and racism when Farid and a handful of other passengers realize theyve been singled out as scapegoats by the hijackers because they happen to be Arab and/or Muslim. (The fact that law enforcement immediately buys into this stereotype is both depressing and probably accurate.) But mostly this is a creature feature through and through, bundled with a bit of wish-fulfillmentwho among us wouldnt want to suddenly reveal badass supernatural powers to a gang of ruthless hijackers, muggers, bullies, cat-callers, whoeverthat unfortunately doesnt lead to a completely satisfying outcome. It is, however, as grim and gory as a movie about vampires ripping out throats on a hijacked airplane ought to be.

Blood Red Sky arrives on Netflix July 23.

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Blood Red Sky Pits a Vampire Against Hijackers and Almost Lives Up to That Killer Concept - Gizmodo

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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