An ill woman and her son are on a plane to New York. Awaiting them, a doctor with an array of ultramodern medical technology will give them the best chance to cure her ailment. Her plane is then, of course, hijacked. All of this is a slow build to a reveal that you can see coming from a mile off her ailment isn’t an ailment; she’s a vampire trying desperately to suppress the monster within, and the hijackers are about to find out that they aren’t in the movie they thought they were in.
It’s a nice twist on a familiar set-up. Usually, we’d be following the hijackers on some heist, only to find out that their plans are being fouled up by monsters, not the other way around. There’s a ton of potential for the film to mine from here too, which is where the first of two problems comes up: the film doesn’t really do that. While it does examine the nature of the monster, it doesn’t take any opportunity to dig into the contrast between her desperate humanity and the lack thereof with the men taking over the plane. This isn’t a dealbreaker, mind you; it just feels like a missed opportunity.
Where the film shines is with the cast, though. Peri Baumeister is fully committed as Najda, the vampire in question, and she shares genuine chemistry with Carl Anton Koch playing her son Elias. Baumeister is, as they say, all in on the role, playing both the stilted, desperate woman at the start of the movie and the creature of wanton destruction at the end to incredible effect. Koch, for his part, is the films emotional core, and he carries that weight with aplomb.
A film like this is only as good as its villains, though. While Roland Møller and Dominic Purcell are on board as the heavies, Alexander Scheer steals every scene he’s in as the psychopathic one. He dials his performance to eleven at every given opportunity. And the film gives him a lot of opportunities.
Where the film really stumbles is with its structure. The story is told in flashback. We know from the first scenes that something is wrong with the plane as soldiers immediately surround it after haphazardly landing at a remote airfield. Elias escapes the plane almost immediately, and the social worker who tries to get him to open up the film flashes back to him arriving at the airport.
Within that flashback, the film also periodically flashes back to Nadja’s memories of becoming a vampire. These second flashbacks, of which there are several, bring the movie to a dead stop every time they come up. One, in particular, interrupts what feels like it should be a big dramatic reveal and the moment that the film would really get rolling.
While losing them would require adding some exposition to explain how a vampire raised a young boy, it also feels like that is a missed opportunity for some great acting somewhere in the middle of the second act ramp up and third act chaos.
When the movie does get rolling, there’s a ton of fun to be had. There are a bunch of fun vampire kills, a few great character moments, and some fun over the top performances. It may take a little too long to get rolling, and it may miss a few opportunities, but if the idea of vampires vs hijackers on a plane seems fun to you, then there is still something here for you to enjoy.
Blood Red Sky will premiere on Netflix this Friday, July 23rd.
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