For the fourth straight week, Netflix premieres a new horror movie on Friday. And it’s not some throwaway movie dug up from several years past. On the heels of the Fear Street trilogy, Blood Red Sky queues up on Netflix’s runway with a vampire battling hijackers on a plane. It’s been awhile since horror fans had a decent vampire movie to sink their teeth into. And this German import looks to mix blood and guts horror with nail-biting action. In spite of its premise recalling From Dusk ‘Till Dawn (or Snakes on a Plane), Blood Red Sky looks like it plays things straight. To date, critics seem largely impressed with the results.
German widow Nadja boards a plane on route to New York City with her young son, Elias. On the other end of their trip is a potential cure to an illness afflicting Nadja. But hijackers on board take over the plane shortly after takeoff. Now with the flight diverted and passengers’ lives at risk, Nadja reveals her illness – she is a vampire. Fighting back, however, puts Nadja’s cure and humanity at risk as she slowly gives in to her bloodlust.
Blood Red Sky a Bloody Good Mix of Action and Horror
On a surface level, hijackers fighting vampires on a plane sounds like From Dusk ‘Till Dawn meets Snakes on a Plane. That is, the premise plays like a B-movie mashup of action and horror. Aside from these cursory similarities, however, Blood Red Sky is an entirely different beast. Director Peter Thorwarth opts for a much more serious tone, wasting little time putting his hijackers next to Peri Baumeister’s vampire. Once Blood Red Sky sets its story in motion Thorwarth ushers the action from cat-and-mouse stalking in the plane’s cargo hold to a mix of action and horror that is often brutally violent. While it’s is never as scary as it should be, Thorwarth capably stages some frenetic vampire sequences.
It’s a simple twist that works hand-in-hand with he movie’s claustrophobic setting to squeeze more tension out of its final act.
Much of Blood Red Sky’s fun comes from an inventive screenplay that isn’t afraid to toy with audience expectations. Thorwarth and co-writer Stefan Holtz take some liberties with vampire mythology. Here, vampire bites act quickly on victims similar to more recent zombie flicks. Specifically, bites almost instantly turn victims into more bloodsuckers. It’s a simple twist that works hand-in-hand with the movie’s claustrophobic setting to squeeze more tension out of its final act. Where Blood Red Sky runs into some problems is its unwieldy runtime and a middle act that loses momentum. Nothing about the movie necessitates over two hours. Fortunately, Blood Red Sky delivers with a bloody finale that never once descends into B-movie silliness.
Blood Red Sky Benefits From an Emotional Core To Its Story
Some of Blood Red Sky’s detours from the ‘vampires vs hijackers’ storyline are necessary. What truly separates this action-horror movie from more generic fare is a surprisingly emotional core to its story. Nadja’s relationship with her young son, Elias, not only adds to the movie’s suspense but gives audiences something in which to invest. Whether Nadja can set the plane back on course to her potential cure gives way to a more immediate concern – her ability to control the bloodlust. Like the vampires in 30 Days of Night, Blood Red Sky eschews Eastern European aristocracy in place of more feral monsters. Moreover, Thorwarth and Holtz’s story centers Elias as the one thing that helps Nadja cling to her humanity. Some of the movie’s better moments come from this dynamic, which also creates stakes for the climax.
Whether Nadja can set the plane back on course to her potential cure gives way to a more immediate concern – her ability to control the bloodlust.
Nonetheless, Blood Red Sky could have excised some of its flashbacks in favour of a leaner story. At least all of the performances in Blood Red Sky are as good or better than expected. Of course, this is entirely contingent on whether you watch the dubbed or subtitles version. Watch the movie with subtitles. Even under a lot of vampire makeup, Peri Baumeister conveys the character’s struggle between feeding and being a mother. Child actor Carl Anton Koch does just fine with the material. And it’s always nice to see Dominic Purcell turn up. But it’s Alexander Scheer’s ‘Eightball’ whose the most fun to watch. Whether he’s a psychopathic hijacker or an animalistic vampire, Scheer gives the movie the villain it needs.
Blood Red Sky a Fun Vampire Movie That Almost Nails Its Premise
Though it doesn’t quite nail the full potential of its premise Blood Red Sky still entertains with its inventive mix of action and horror. Alongside its increasing use of suspense Blood Red Sky ensures everything revolves around a strong emotional core. Baumeister’s ‘mother-and-son’ relationship elevates the movie above just a genre mashup. Shave off about 15 or 20 minutes from the movie and you’d have a much tighter thrill-ride. It’s also probably not as scary as its claustrophobic setting promises. Nonetheless, Blood Red Sky is the most fun we’ve had with vampires in some time.