Netflix’s Blood Red Sky features an interesting take on the classic plane hijacking thriller by adding a vampire element but unfortunately loses itself by the end.
Plane hijacking films have been done repeatedly since the 70s, with classic examples like Airport ’77 (1977), Passenger 57 (1992), and Flightplan (2005). These aren’t the best in their category; however, they are quite entertaining to watch. Amidst those films comes Netflix’s Blood Red Sky, which sees hijackers taking down a plane but adds a new element that has never been used in a movie like this: vampires. You already have the pulsing thrills, and blending horror into the mix might seem like a good idea depending on how it is managed. With that comes the film’s main problem, its management of structure and ideas.
Blood Red Sky centres around Nadja (Peri Baumeister) and Elias (Carl Anton Koch), a mother and son who board an overnight plane to a medical facility to tend to Nadja’s mysterious condition. Everything is looking fine until a group of terrorists hijack their flight. Nadja’s illness begins to kick in, unleashing a monstrous secret. She must now try and protect her young son and deal with the hijackers.
Although it may not seem like the most creative affair, there are still some interesting ideas lurking around. To make a film like this work nowadays, you need something to attach to it that makes it memorable. Flightplan has Jodie Foster’s performance, Passenger 57 has Wesley Snipes and Bruce Payne’s exaggerated demeanours, and Airport ’77 is ridiculously entertaining. Blood Red Sky has bloodthirsty creatures, yet it fails to get a hold of itself.
The first act runs smoothly and delves into the characters in an intriguing manner. We as an audience still don’t know all the details of Nadja’s illness; the only thing known is that she takes a “vaccine” of sorts to settle herself down. That later runs into the film’s second act, when the hijacking occurs and the thrills come into play. Everything goes swell until it hits a certain point of repetitiveness. Tropes that we have seen in films like these are used, so your attention wavers. The hide-and-seek and hunter vs. hunted techniques are the most common.
The reason why the film never hardens to something greater is the last act. There, the simple idea of having a vampire amidst a plane hijacking turns into an action-packed messy blood bath. What looked at first like a compelling concept switched gears into something crazier, in an absurd way. It disconnects you from the characters, and your sense of care flies as well. However, there is enough nastiness, and blood buckets spilled to grab your attention in some of its lowest moments.
The vampires have a Nosferatu-like design with a bald head, long ears, and sharp, long claws, yet still aren’t as scary-looking as Murnau or Herzog’s versions. Although we don’t see the transformations closely, their look is quite nice, except for the eyes. The eyes were the only thing that looked a bit off. As for the practical effects, there is only one word: nasty. The filmmakers could have gone down a bloodier, more explicit path, though, to improve the balance between action and horror.
Outside of the small doses of nastiness and the large amounts of vampire action, Blood Red Sky doesn’t have much to offer. It loses itself by implementing action sequences instead of going in a simplistic route with a blood-seeking vampire stuck in an aircraft without her medicine. You spend most of the time looking for that same intrigue found in the film’s first act.