‘Blood Red Sky’ Review: Vampires and Terrorists on a Plane
By Daniel Rester
Yeah, sure, snakes attacking passengers on a plane is a thrilling concept. But vampires attacking terrorists on a plane is on another level. At least on paper. Execution-wise, the horror film Blood Red Sky sometimes follows through on the brilliant concept but at other times it drops the ball.
Peter Thorwarth’s film, which is partially in English and partially in German, opens with a wild plane landing sequence that frames the story as a surviving passenger explains what happened. We then jump to Nadja (Peri Baumeister), a vampire who is travelling with her son to the United States so that she can try to get her disease cured by scientists. While Nadja and her boy Elias (Carl Anton Koch) are on a transatlantic flight, terrorists take over and threaten the passengers. Nadja is eventually triggered and her vampirism comes to the surface.
Blood Red Sky is tense and entertaining for its first hour or so, with the second hour being more hit and miss. Baumeister and Koch establish a believable mother-son dynamic, while Kais Setti is also welcome as a friendly passenger named Farid. The three actors help keep rooting interest up even as the action becomes repetitive (and choppy at times) and the pacing starts to drag. The film likely would have flowed much better at a brisk 90 or 100 minutes than the 121 minutes it sits at.
Part of what makes the film move in fits and starts is that we already know some of the people who survive because of the plane landing scene in the beginning. This deflates some of the tension when those characters are then shown in life-threatening scenarios that take place before the landing scene. Flashbacks that show how Nadja became a vampire, which take place in beautiful gothic and snowy settings, slow down the movie as well.
The biggest flaw with the film isn’t with the pacing, however. It is a decision by one of the terrorist characters that is just completely unbelievable. I won’t spoil what the decision is as it affects certain plot points, but you’ll know it when you see it. If the film was just pulpy B-movie nonsense all the way, then the decision might have gone with the flow. But Thorwarth presents a more serious tone and intelligent approach in the first half, and in doing so the decision feels out of place when it comes and changes the film’s gear in the second half.
The action staged for Blood Red Sky by Thorwarth and his team is often bloody and exciting even if the plot takes turns that are hard to believe. The vampire makeup is top-notch and the plane setting allows claustrophobia as passengers try to evade the threats in tight aisles. As mentioned, some of the editing of the action can be choppy at times. Most of the time, however, the mayhem comes at the audience in fast and scary ways.
Blood Red Sky works at the end of the day, but I wish it worked better given its brilliant horror concept. The film moves quickly at some points but drags in other spots. Some of the character decisions and plot turns are hard to believe too. The cast is solid throughout though and the red-spraying thrills are plenty.
My Grade: 6.8/10 (letter grade equivalent: B-)
Running Time: 2h 1min