July 27, 2021

Review: “Blood Red Sky” Puts Vampires on a Plane

In another world, Blood Red Sky is a tale about finding the line between the human and animalistic parts of ourselves, and the sophistications of maintaining a balance between the two. In our world, on the other hand, it’s just about vampires on a plane.

I’m kind of glad we got the story that we got, though. It may not be that deep or intelligent, but Blood Red Sky pulls off its premise surprisingly well. German widow Nadja (Peri Baumeister), apparently suffering from leukemia, boards a plane to New York with her soft-spoken son Elias (Carl Anton Koch). The plane is hijacked mid-flight, and for a bit we follow the expected story pattern of terrorists taking control. This time, though, there’s an added twist — here there be monsters, and they’re hungry for blood.

It might sound delightfully absurd (á la Snakes on a Plane), and believe me, it is, but there’s so much more to it. The film plays everything completely straight, even the absolutely ludicrous concepts it continues to introduce. Writer/director Peter Thorwarth’s story makes the most of its premise and gives us exactly what it entails — an action-packed, hyper-violent thrill ride. Aeorophobics, beware.

Blood Red Sky really takes the worst possible scenario and amplifies every aspect of it. Not only are terrorists taking over the plane, but they commit multiple murders to do it. Not only are they planning a mass execution, but they’re framing the Muslim passengers for it — and it’s been set up meticulously, with certain Arab passengers unsuspectedly lured onto the flight for that very purpose. And once the vampires show up, things only get worse and worse. Transatlantic Flight 473 is a nightmare, and you can consider me glad it’s only fictional. The movie does an absolutely fantastic job at making you happy you’re on the ground and not up in the sky.

On another note, it’s clear that the film demanded a lot of its actors, and they really deliver, especially Peri Baumeister, who undergoes such a stark change throughout the length of the film that by the end she is rendered unrecognizable in more ways than one. Young actor Carl Anton Koch, despite having little to say, gives it his all. Dominic Purcell (one of the few bigger-name actors involved), Alexander Scheer and Roland Møller are all massively intimidating presences as three of the terrorists. I know I keep segueing with “when the vampires come out,” but there’s so many delicious turns that happen post-bloodsucker that I don’t want to give anything away. To say the terrorists get what they deserve is an (only somewhat accurate) understatement. Scottish actor Graham McTavish (Lucifer, The Hobbit) is here as well, in a small but effective role.

It may throw some off that Blood Red Sky incorporates multiple languages — it begins at a German airport, but due to being a transatlantic flight to New York, there’s a lot of English spoken as well. Throw in some Arabic, Farsi and Dutch, and you’ve got this hybrid vampire-action movie. Usually in these scenarios you’d see everyone speaking English for simplicity’s sake, but Blood Red Sky shows it like it is, and I can appreciate that.

Blood Red Sky brings up loads of unanswered questions about the lore of vampires in this universe, but to be honest, it’s not entirely necessary information. Once the basics are accepted, it makes enough sense to justifiably work — everyone knows at least a little bit about how vampires work, and that rudimentary knowledge should be enough.

The main meat of this movie is the action — once it starts, it hardly ever stops until the film finishes out with a set-piece finale. We have some character moments here and there (mostly in the first act), before we move into a good old fashioned suspense thriller. The tension is masterful — practically no outcome is guaranteed, and when anything can happen, you’re on the tip of your toes the entire time. When the action kicks in, it’s like the final friend arriving to the dinner party; everything feels complete.

In addition to boasting absolutely incredible practical effects and makeup, Blood Red Sky is a damn good action/horror movie which uses its vampires and tactful hijacking fearmongering to the fullest extent. If you’re afraid of flying, you may want to skip this one. [Grade: A]

Director: Peter Thorwarth
Writers: Peter Thorwarth and Stefan Holtz
Starring: Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch, Kais Setti, Dominic Purcell, Alexander Scheer
Rated: TV-MA for violence and language
Available: Netflix
Fun Fact: Near the end of the film, Farid is handcuffed despite having only one hand.

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