BLOOD RED SKY (2021), a new Netflix action thriller horror movie which hails from Germany, reminded me a bite…er, a bit of the classic Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino vampire movie FROM DUSK TO DAWN (1996) starring George Clooney, in that the first half is a hard hitting thriller, and then everything changes when the supernatural elements emerge in the film’s second half.
The big difference is that in FROM DUSK TO DAWN the audience found themselves rooting for the violent criminals played by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino once they were pitted against a gang of vampires, whereas here in BLOOD RED SKY, the audience roots for the supernatural character.
In BLOOD RED SKY, a mother Nadja (Peri Baumeister) and her young son Elias (Carl Anton Koch) board a transatlantic flight to New York because Nadja is very ill and is seeking out a specialist to help her with a blood disease. But the flight is commandeered by a group of terrorists. To survive and protect her son, Nadja reveals the truth about her condition which is more than just a disease, but rather a supernatural affliction that makes her a force to be reckoned with.
Yup. It’s SNAKES ON A PLANE (2006) meets NOSFERATU (1922).
Actually, that makes the film sound campy, and BLOOD RED SKY isn’t campy at all. It’s deadly serious.
And it works.
I really enjoyed BLOOD RED SKY.
The first half is a riveting action thriller about a plane hijacking as seen through the eyes of a young boy and his mother. Carl Anton Koch is very good as Elias, the bright young boy who is happy to be helping his mother on this trip as they seek out a cure for her condition. His reaction when he believes his mother has been murdered is authentic and moving.
Peri Baumeister in these early scenes makes for a sufficiently sick mother, pale, weak, and struggling to find the strength to even get on the plane. And later when she becomes an undead vigilante, she is horrific and frightening.
Kais Setti plays Farid, a man flying alone who befriends Elias when they strike up a conversation in the airport while Elias is waiting for his mom to return from the restroom. His character is probably the one audiences will identify with most, as he is the everyday person caught up in the middle of the action, the man who is willing to help fight back against the terrorists and also protect Elias as best he can.
Dominic Purcell plays Berg, the menacing leader of the terrorists, but it’s Alexander Scheer who steals the show as the loose cannon terrorist Eightball who likes to shoot first and ask questions later. He’s also the terrorist who is up to the challenge of taking on Nadja in her new condition, and he uses it to his advantage.
Director Peter Thorwarth keeps the first half of the movie intense with scenes of heartless terrorists on the plane, and later turns things up a notch to the point where they become downright insane once the supernatural elements enter the movie. There are a lot of suspenseful scenes throughout as well as plenty of violent bloody ones. And while in general this one isn’t really scary, there are a couple of well-crafted frightening moments, one in particular being in a flashback sequence where Nadja is searching for her missing husband and finds herself exploring an empty farmhouse. There’s a moment in this sequence which shows the origins of her condition that made me recoil. Good stuff!
The screenplay by director Thorwarth and Stefan Holtz is a good one. The dialogue is first-rate throughout. One thing I wasn’t crazy about was the construct of the plot, which begins with the plane landing and then tells the rest of the story via flashback. To me, this ruined any chances for a suspenseful ending, as we know the plane lands from the get-go. A riveting landing scene at the film’s end would have made the conclusion that much more exciting.
But I loved the idea for this story, mixing a hard-hitting terrorist plot with the supernatural, all of it happening on board a plane. I was entertained from start to finish.
I also really enjoyed the vampire make-up, which is reminiscent of Count Orlok in NOSFERATU, and this is most likely on purpose.
The movie is in both English and German, with English subtitles.
If you’re looking for a high concept action horror movie, look no further than BLOOD RED SKY.