Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Repeat Bidness: Red Eye

* This post is part of the Week of Reel WHorror! *

Original Release: 08.19.05
DVD Release: 01.10.06

Rated PG-13
1 hour, 25 minutes

Full Price ($$$$) <
> Matinee ($$$)

Veteran horror director Wes Craven (Scream) proves that a successful thriller can be accomplished given the PG-13 restriction, though most contemporary horror flicks have proven to the contrary. The premise of this tense tale is that hotel concierge Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams, Wedding Crashers), is returning to Miami on the red eye flight after attending her grandmother’s funeral in Texas. While suffering through security and weather delays, she meets fellow passenger Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy, 28 Days Later), whom she hesitantly befriends. Once aboard the plane, Lisa finds the odds in her favor as the handsome Jackson is seated by her side. Her luck abruptly ends as the young businessman's disturbing agenda puts several lives, including hers, in immediate jeopardy. At 30,000 feet there’s nowhere to run and escape may be too late by the time the plane lands.

Wes Craven ties this thrilling saga to the wings of air travel in current day America. Besides dealing with the death of her grandmother, a demanding job and a doting father, Lisa has the added stress of shoving elbows with disgruntled passengers. The detailed, hectic life scripted for Lisa is well delivered by McAdams’s performance. Her expressive features and casual presence spark an instant closeness with the audience. Without such an emotional connection, would have become another pointless shock-fest. Accenting her luminous performance is the equally adept Murphy. Thanks to his charming good looks, Lisa overlooks his somewhat foreboding remarks in the hope they make a love connection. Murphy expresses a duality with Jackson that creates an unnerving tone for the film. The tête-à-tête with McAdams and Murphy is the focal point, and thankfully their excellent acting talents help maintain the necessary intensity.

Red Eye does run a bit short, but it helps that the thriller moves fast and that the premise is simple to follow. Having our protagonist trapped in an enclosed space at the mercy of a threatening villain keeps the audience guessing what can be done next and who will be left standing once the dust clears. The visual experience assists the story as well, many times giving the vantage of a fellow passenger or supporting character and never the omniscient presence that can many times spoil an effective thriller.

Dirty Undies
Wes Craven rounds out the cast with one of my favorite filler actors, Brian Cox (The Ring), who sports some very Craven-esque make up during his few minutes of screen time. While the scripting keeps you riveted to the story, the two main actors’ attractive, disarming features will keep your eyes glued to the screens. Since this is ultimately a PG-13 thriller, there is no skin to speak of though we do get a panty shot from McAdams’s stunt double. I know, not quite what you're hoping, but at least her double gets lots of work with the abundance of spine-tingling chases and altercations. The death toll isn’t inordinately high, but Craven saves up the mayhem for a handful of satisfyingly brutal scenes.

The Money Shot
Thanks to some clever casting, Wes Craven can rise from the ashes of the accursed Cursed with his head held high. This tale of terror is infused with a hearty dose of tension that will ripple through the viewer. Without a doubt, Red Eye proves the case for quality over quantity.

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  1. Whore, come on, I was so disappointed when I saw this film. When that guy gets stabbed in the neck and keeps living, on and on, I wanted to throw my hands up. I'm sure the short story or book is far more entertaining.

  2. It's been a while since I've seen RE, maybe I was star-struck by Cillian and Rachel.

    You got to admit it was better than Craven's Cursed, well except for the Judy Greer-werewolf scene.

  3. They both were lackluster at best.

  4. Oh no. Cursed as a whole was far far worse than even the worst scene in Red Eye, imo.

  5. I wouldn't rent either or recommend either. Their both in the garbage pile.