Review: BLOOD RED SKY, Vampires on a Plane, Bloody, Gory Fun

Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch and Alexander Scheer star in the action-horror-thriller, directed by Peter Thorwarth, now streaming on Netflix.

Lead Critic; San Francisco, California
Review: BLOOD RED SKY, Vampires on a Plane, Bloody, Gory Fun

Months, if not weeks or even days, after Die Hard became a box-office hit sometime in the last century (1988), every studio, major, minor, and mini, green-lighted every possible, imaginable variation of the same, basic concept, everything from “Die Hard on a ship” (Under Siege, Speed 2: Cruise Control), “Die Hard on a bus” (Speed), “Die Hard on a train” (Under Siege 2), “Die Hard on a plane” (Passenger 57), and eventually even “Die Hard on a plane with snakes” (Snakes on a Plane), but somehow not a single studio greenlit “Die Hard on a plane … but with vampires.”

Time, however, remains a flat circle and here we are, with the “Die Hard on a plane … but with vampires” horror-action-thriller hybrid, Blood Red Sky, we’ve been missing all these years. Alas, Blood Red Sky might be an original twist on an old, familiar concept, but it’s also a predictable, awkwardly structured, derivative one that offers few surprises, shocks, or scares.

Blood Red Sky starts off promisingly enough, though, with an obviously distressed, international airliner making an emergency landing on a Scottish airfield under the anxious supervision of a not-unexpectedly hard-nosed military man, Col. Alan Drummond (Graham McTavish, Outlander, Preacher). Before long, one of the survivors, Elias (Carl Anton Koch), a shaky, traumatized preteen boy, emerges from the plane. Almost immediately, the authorities whisk Elias off to a nearby medical facility to check on his well-being and more importantly, interrogate Elias about the plane and why (and how) it made an emergency landing. Meanwhile, Drummond’s sharpshooter’s keep an eye on Farid (Kais Setti), the passenger who stepped up and landed a commercial airliner.

Given Farid’s name and complexion, Drummond assumes a terrorist takeover explains the airliner’s emergency landing. He’s half-right. Terrorists — or men of the Caucasian persuasion who identify themselves as terrorists, but are likely motivated by money, not ideology — did take over the airliner, eliminating the flight crew, disabling the air marshals, and brutalizing the passengers.

They picked the wrong flight to hijack, though. Little did the terrorists know (the audience knows within moments), one of the passengers, Nadja (Peri Baumeister), wasn’t what she appeared to be: She wasn’t an ill woman in a bad, ill-fitting wig, but a woman fighting a vampiric infection, headed to the United States for experimental treatment.

The terrorists, led by the singularly named Berg (Dominic Purcell, Legends of Tomorrow), eventually learn that Nadja isn’t on the plane with them; they’re on the plane with her. With Elias threatened and the vampire-suppressing meds either in short supply or proving ineffective, Nadja begins a descent into full-on, feral vampire mode.

It’s Nadja’s struggle, between the burgeoning vampirism that will strip her of her identity and turn her in a bloodthirsty animal and her fierce, protective maternal instincts, that provides Blood Red Sky with its crucial, central conflict. The battle between Nadja and the terrorists, including a sadomasochistic, sociopathic flight attendant-turned-terrorist, Eightball (Alexander Scheer), are almost incidental or marginal. To save Elias, Nadja faces the ultimate dilemma: Save Elias, but lose herself, perhaps irrevocably.

Foregrounding Nadja’s struggle helps Blood Red Sky overcome periodic rough spots, from co-writer/director Peter Thorwarth’s (Not My Day) decision to bookend Nadja and Elias’s journey via an extended, suspense-deadening flashback, multiple, digressive flashbacks-within-flashbacks that should have been deleted altogether, Berg’s eyebrow-raising decision to include an obviously psychotic Eightball on his crew, and the clumsy attempts to force contemporary concerns (i.e., racism, xenophobia) into an otherwise surface-deep story.

Competently directed, if perfunctory, action scenes dropped in periodically also help Blood Red Sky moving at a reasonable clip, though eventually, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to recognize Blood Red Sky as nothing less — and nothing more — than a squandered opportunity.

Blood Red Sky is now streaming on Netflix.

Blood Red Sky

  • Peter Thorwarth
  • Stefan Holtz
  • Peter Thorwarth
  • Graham McTavish
  • Dominic Purcell
  • Peri Baumeister
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Alexander ScheerBlood Red SkyChidi AjufoGermanyPeri BaumeisterPeter ThorwarthRoland MøllerStefan HoltzGraham McTavishDominic PurcellActionHorrorThriller

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