Welcome to Fix It, our series examining projects we love save for one tiny change we wish we could make.
Watching a movie about an airplane infested with vampires, you have certain expectations. A heartbreaking ending probably isnt one of them.
And yet, Netflixs Blood Red Sky which tells the harrowing tale of a woman named Nadja (Peri Baumeister) and her son Elias (Carl Anton Koch) fighting to survive an airplane hijacking is a tear-jerker. In fact, its the gruesome thrillers emotional center thats cemented its reputation as a hidden gem among many Netflix subscribers. Look up reactions on Twitter and youll get a slew of horror fans not just gushing over the films bonkers premise, but, as one viewer so aptly put it, crying over a small German child and his vampire mom with remarkable fervor.
As the surprising grief of Blood Red Sky washed over me, I couldnt help but question whether this movie had to be quite so sad. Its not that I cant appreciate a tragic conclusion to a hopeless horror story. But with a happy ending for Nadja and Elias seemingly just in reach, I completed director Peter Thorwarths blood-sucking action-adventure wondering why he and co-writer Stefan Holtz felt they had to finish things the way they did. (Blood Red Sky is really best enjoyed without any spoilers, so if you havent seen the movie, turn back now.)
Believe it or not, this is Nadja with everything under control.Credit: netflix
Here's a quick recap of how it went down. We know Blood Red Sky ends with a fraught final act from the beginning. In the films first shot, we flash forward to see good guy Farid (Kais Setti) seated in the cockpit of a grounded commercial passenger jet telling police about explosives on board.
By the time the jam-packed plot, which sees Nadja become a terrorist-fighting Noseferatu look-alike, loops back to that moment, however, we know the explosives are just one part of a hugely complex and volatile conclusion to our story. See, not only is the airplane rigged to explode but thanks to sadistic villain Eightball (Alexander Scheer) everyone on the plane except for Elias and Farid has been infected with Nadjas violent strain of vampirism.
And, although Nadja has spent years fighting her urges and looking for a cure to her affliction (she was actually on her way to an experimental treatment when these plane-stealing assholes showed up), Nadja's hungry new cohorts send our heroine into an uncontrollable feeding frenzy. So, once Elias and Farid are safe on the runway, Elias chooses to detonate the hijackers device, vanquish the vampires, and, consequently, kill his mother.
Yeah, the vampires on an airplane movie ends with a kid blowing up his own mom.
You guys really don't got this.Credit: NETFLIX
According to one interpretation from Looper, this devastating turn of events marks the collision of two of Blood Red Skys major themes. First, its the logical conclusion to the emotional arc of a mothers undying love. Nadja would do anything for Elias, and in the end, Elias knew that included sacrificing her life for his even if Nadja wasnt in her right mind to suggest the idea. Second, Elias choice allows Nadja to vicariously claim victory over her mysterious illness. It may have taken her life, but this type of vampirism will presumably stop spreading thanks to Nadjas sacrifice.
Ostensibly, that silver lining should be consolation enough for the viewers who spent more than two hours rooting for this mother-son team. But if our collective sorrow is any indication, it didn't actually make this catastrophic ending sit all that well with us post-credits.
Because while Nadja did start the film in dire condition, the symptoms of her hematophagy regularly being confused for signs of leukemia, her health seemed salvageable, even manageable to the bitter end. The idea that, even as Elias held the detonator in his hand, Nadja might just "snap out of it" and return to her human form felt at the very least plausible. It could have been one of these subtle scenes where the color of Nadja's eyes change just before she dramatically collapses to the floor, loses her fangs, and regains her soul. Or, at least, something like that.
Uh, hey.Credit: NETFLIX
So why didn't the writers go for the happy ending? Well, Blood Red Sky's commitment to executing a dark and gritty vampire movie is what makes its whackier elements work. I'd understand the argument that committing to this pessimistic finale helps drive home the realism of a movie you'd think would include Sam L. Jackson screaming about these "mother fucking vampires on this motherfucking plane" but is actually fairly gripping. Maintaining the tension between Nadja and the terrorists responsible for the hijacking is essential to the movie's believability, and Elias being orphaned by this whole ordeal does seem likely.
Still, at this point in the story, I think giving these characters' the ending they deserve should outrank suspending disbelief. I'm not suggesting we needed a peppy slideshow of Nadja and Elias celebrating holidays throughout the years, or even a particularly thorough explanation of what happens to them next. I just would have liked them to live, because it felt like they earned it.
Blood Red Sky is now streaming on Netflix.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero