Blood Red Sky (dir. Peter Thorwarth, 2021) – Terrorists attempt to hijack a transatlantic flight, but find themselves going up against an unexpected threat.
In search of treatment for her unknown malady, Nadja (Peri Baumeister) travels on a night flight to New York with her son Elias (Carl Anton Koch), only to be taken hostage by a group of ruthless hijackers. All she knew then was that she had to protect her child. And that she would do anything, even if it means revealing her secret that may well put herself in danger.
It isn’t long before her dark secret comes to light. Taking cues from classic genre-blender From Dusk Till Dawn, Blood Red Sky turns predator into prey, trading the ostensible hostage situation for an unexpected night of vampiric terror. That’s right, it’s stakes on a plane as the clever Internet has now branded the film.
In this change of direction, Nadja lets her fangs loose a little too early in the game to elicit any genuine surprise. Still, the vicious thriller that follows remains exceptionally exciting. For starters, it delivers the terror. The vampire shares the intimidating façade of vicious creatures in the vein of 30 Days of Night, leaving little room for any doubt of her prowess.
Rampage ensues, gore included, but it is more than that. There is much to engage emotionally in the story too, in that Nadja isn’t out for blood. She gives in to the undead beast within only to protect her child, but still struggles to hold onto her humanity for him. Her evocative dilemma gives us reason to care, lending the potentially campy premise necessary gravitas.
Tension continually builds when her adversaries show little fear for her barely bridled monstrosity. Their leader Berg (Dominic Purcell) takes seconds to recover from his shock and doubles down on his appetite for violence. His particularly unstable partner Eightball (Alexander Scheer) puts up the toughest fight with a terrifying lack of limits. Despite over-the-top performances, their absence of morality makes for an incredibly violent threat that ultimately forces difficult choices.
In the bleak situation, Nadja is fortunately not alone in her fight. Farid (Kais Setti) refuses to play scapegoat to the hijackers’ plans, rallying the other passengers to step up and save their own lives. Young Elias isn’t quite the helpless child either, his love for his mother exceeding his fear.
It is easy to root for the passengers who eventually step up against the worst of them and refuse to wait around to be saved. Their humanity is what ultimately lends greater depth to an otherwise ordinary horror film, making for a memorable thrill ride that amounts to more than its body count.
A moving portrayal of maternal love and human compassion elevates Blood Red Sky beyond a genre-bending gimmick.
Blood Red Sky is now on Netflix.