Working Through The Queue: Blood Red Sky (2021)
It's been a while since I've seen a really good vampire movie or a really good airplane thriller, so it was a very pleasant surprise to see BRS not only manage to pull both off but to excel at the blending. Toss on top of that having a great female lead protagonist who's also one of the core threats in the story plus a young child who isn't horribly annoying, and is in fact one of the most effective characters in the film and we've got a real winner here.
The story follows Nadja and her son Elias as they board a flight to New York in the hope that Nadja can receive treatment for an undisclosed ailment. Which is vampirism. Because that's the whole premise, so I'm not spoiling anything. Unfortunately their flight is hijacked by terrorists who want to change the flight's course, which will ruin most of Nadja's plans. Enter vampire hijinks.
The film approaches vampirism with the more feral variety that suffers from a blood disease that we've seen in stories like the Strain, where the blood lust tends to take control but there may still be something of the original person left inside to save. Beyond that it doesn't spend too much time worrying about building its vampire lore, and it really doesn't need to and thankfully it recognizes that. I did appreciate though that they visually infer that the longer the person is infected they may turn a little more Count Orlok-like over time, as we see with Nadja's overall transformation the longer she stays 'full vampire'.
It's the kind of plot that sounds like it was pitched because no one has really done it yet, but the stellar production, solid acting, and genuine approach to telling a horror thriller all elevate the film into a really great experience. There are a few elements of movie logic you do have to not focus on for too long, such as what kind of help a doctor in New York would have been for vampirism, or why the terrorists would keep that one crazy guy around who will without a doubt mess things up. These are things we just need to ignore so that the story could happen, and the film knows this too as it even pokes at it a little. We never really know for sure why the hijackers are taking the plane, and the hostages even try to figure it out as it could be to manipulate the stock market or to alter an election with a terrorist attack. It never really matters because it just needs to happen.
Peri Baumeister shoulders the weight of the film as Nadja, taking on the action hero role but causing more damage as she suffers through her curse. Dominic Purcell performs as your standard terrorist leader while Alexander Scheer's unhinged character Eightball outperforms as the core antagonist. He is of course the person you want shot immediately because why would any highly detailed orientated mercenary outfit have a crazy guy like that on its crew, but Scheer doesn't make him annoyingly crazy so it works.
I'm also generally prepared for younger kids in these roles to be either annoying or forgettable, but Carl Anton Koch's turn as Elias was really well done. And as I said, he was probably the most effective character throughout the movie, figuring stuff out and getting things done without being the kid genius prodigy but just someone who wants to save their mother.
BRS starts as a little bit of a slow burn and interrupts the story from time to time with flashbacks for exposition, but overall the pacing is solid and once you hit the main stretch of horror action it doesn't really let up. The effects are generally subdued with some nice make-up and prosthetics, but as most of the story is done in darkness and in cramped spaces it doesn't need much. I suppose it is decently violent, and there is plenty of blood and biting happening, but it's not the goriest I've seen by any measure. Then again, I've seen enough film violence to be fairly desensitized in that regard so maybe take that into account.
If you're looking for a nice genre mash-up that does a great service to everything it's trying to be then I highly recommend giving Blood Red Sky a shot. It's not necessarily groundbreaking in any way but it's a refreshing infusion of genuine love for vampire horror.