A simple plane hijacking goes awry for a group of money-hungry baddies in Blood Red Sky when they realize they are trapped on board with a real-life vampire. Directed by Peter Thorwarth (Der letzte Bulle), from a screenplay co-written with Stefan Holtz (Kiss Me Kismet), this “Die Hard on a plane but with a vampire” stars Peri Baumeister (Unsere Zeit ist jetzt), Dominic Purcell (Blade: Trinity), Alexander Scheer (Gundermann), and Kais Setti (Dogs of Berlin).
The film juggles three timelines. In the present day, a plane makes an emergency landing after a distress signal alerts the airfield to an ongoing terrorist attack. To the authorities surrounding the plane, the situation is simple: The Muslim man piloting the plane hijacked it midair and is currently holding the passengers hostage for some undetermined reason. Of course, things are not what they seem…
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“[Peri Baumeister] comes out vangs blazing, ripping and gulping her way through the plane like a lion set loose on an all-you-can-drink buffet of bad guy blood.”
Last night, a group of mercenaries hijacked an overnight flight from Frankfurt to New York. The crew led by Berg (Dominic Purcell) are clearly experts and they quickly take control of the plane. Among them are a handful of musclebound baddies and the unpredictably sadistic Eightball, played by Alexander Scheer. What’s a criminal gang without a psychotic loose cannon, right? Despite Eightball really harshing the buzz of his fellow murders, the hijacking is going surprisingly well…until a innocent (and mysteriously ill) passenger begins tearing open the throats of the hijackers. Surprise! She’s a blood-sucking creature of the night 🦇
Sprinkled in there are little detours into the past where Nadja (the mysterious vampire passenger, played by Peri Baumeister) was turned into a vampire herself, and changed forever. Those detours are informative and flesh out her character but they’re a lot like installing roadblocks on a freeway. No one barrelling along at 100mph wants to slow down to take in the scenery, they want to burn gas, haul ass, and leave the bad guys choking on their dust. That isn’t to say that the movie is without its vampiric fun. When the chips are down and Nadja is left with no other choice, she comes out vangs blazing, ripping and gulping her way through the plane like a lion set loose on an all-you-can-drink buffet of bad guy blood.
Blood Red Sky is at it’s best when it embraces the B-Movie at its core. It’s really cooking when it narrows in on its three basic elements: Hijacked Plane, Ruthless Terrorists, and Vampire Mom. When everything else is stripped away and the movie messes around inside that limited sandbox, it’s entertainment at 20,000 feet. Thrown in the mix, however, are flashbacks explaining Nadja‘s vampiric origins, infighting among the terrorists, and “hostage negotiations” at the local airport where the plane landed in the opening of the film. On top of that, the movie really squeezes its setting dry of all possible setpieces. That goes to show that Thorwarth & Holtz put a lot of thought into their script, constantly looking to serve you one high-stakes moment after another but, sadly, it’s too much of a good thing.
For a movie with as simple a setup as “terrorists on plane must fight vampire on plane”, there’s just too much movie here. There are 1.5 movies in this movie! Every element is good. Every little detour the story takes is worth it (from a character perspective) but it bloats the overall film and adds unnecessary breaks in the momentum of the story. The abundance of backstory and turmoil we’re shown for Nadja is at a level generally reserved for television (where it would have surely worked very well). She’s a great character, and I would have happily sat through a handful of episodes exploring her struggles as a young vampire mother fighting the urge to eat her non-vampire baby, but that’s not the story I came to see.
The poster has a vampire on it. The word vampire shows up right there in the short synopsis. We all know we’re sitting down to watch a movie about a vampire fighting terrorists on a plane but it takes nearly 45 minutes before we’re given that twist and another 30 or so until she really starts sinking her teeth into the hijackers. In that time, however, there are moments of subtle brilliance between the passengers and the terrorists. Until the vampire shows up, Blood Red Sky is a high-stakes plane hijacking movie, and it’s great. In a perfect world, the vampire twist would be this movie’s best-kept secret, showing up unannounced to blow the minds of everyone watching. Unfortunately, knowing that element ahead of time makes every minute a countdown to the eventual drac attack.
Blood Red Sky is a victim of it’s own pacing but it still delivers everything you’re looking for in a good vampire movie (not to mention a good heist movie). It’s got blood-splattered fight sequences, characters with assault rifles realizing they are no match for the creature hunting them down, and it’s got a tortured monster, desperately trying to hold onto her humanity in the face of unrelenting horror. Although I have my misgivings about the meandering nature of the story’s juggled timelines, the 3rd act really kicks into the high gear it spent the previous hour-and-a-half warming up for. And despite a rocky ride from point A to point B, Blood Red Sky really does manage to stick its landing and bring home a fun, fang-filled good time.
“Blood Red Sky is a victim of it’s own pacing but it still delivers everything you’re looking for in a good vampire film (not to mention a good heist movie)”
Peter Thorwarth’s Blood Red Sky hits Netflix July 23rd. Are you excited to see this blood-sucker-on-a-plane b-movie? Let us know over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.