Vampires on a plane, folks. What more do you need to know?! Okay, a Samuel L. Jackson cameo to say … well, you know. Actually, just kidding, 2021’s German Netflix film, Red Blood Sky, is not campy or meant as camp like 2006’s Snakes on a Plane was.
The simple premise of the film is Nadja (played by Peri Baumeister), who seems ill with leukemia at first, boards a transatlantic flight from Germany to America with her son, Elias (played by Carl Koch). Along the way, a group of terrorists hijack the plane, thanks to the help of a flight attendant and the co-pilot.
Because of the danger the terrorists present, Nadja can no longer hide her secret, particularly when the flight attendant terrorist, Eightball (played by Alexander Scheer), shoots and “kills” Nadja. Eightball already proved himself particularly sociopathic and someone willing to kill for sport when he brutally, repeatedly stabbed the flight marshal amid the terrorists takeover of the plane.
Nadja’s secret, as the dang poster gives away!, is that she’s a vampire. Prior to the events of the film, her and her husband’s vehicle broke down with a baby Elias. The husband went to look for help and instead was killed by a vampire. Nadja was bit, too.
She’s somehow better able to tamp down on the vampire urges with apparent vampire suppressors, but is warned by an elder vampire that vampires are evil and they have to stop the spread of them. Despite his warnings, Nadja bludgeons him to death.
So, to back up. Is there anyone who likes watching a foreign film with English dubbing, as in this case? Give me the German language with English subtitles, please. Dubbing is atrocious and I’ve never seen dubbing done satisfactorily. Worse, dubbing detracts from a film. Eventually, you get used to it because you have to to watch the film, but whew. It’s bad here.
Secondly, the film starts with the plane in question making a landing at the Royal Air Force base in Scotland. Because of that and the entire RAF gearing up to go onto the plane, we know something is amiss before we see anything else with the film.
Normally, I wouldn’t like that. I prefer waiting for the “crap hitting the fan” moment rather than being teased with it and working backward. However, since I didn’t know this was a vampire film and that Nadja was a vampire, I enjoyed waiting to unravel her mystery. When she was shot so early on in the film by Eightball and presumably killed, that was legitimately shocking! But I figured there had to be more to the story because she can’t die this soon.
Eightball, as I mentioned, is a sociopath. So much so, that he elects to take Nadja’s blood and become a vampire. That creates the conflict on the plane, as Eightball battles Nadja, who is trying to keep her son safe. Along the way, more passengers are turned into vampires. And Farid (played by Kais Setti), who Elias met while waiting at the airport, is stuck in the middle. First, Farid has been framed by the terrorists to appear as the Muslim terrorist who hijacked the plane and the RAF believe it. Then, he’s trying to also protect Elias while dealing with the fact that Nadja is a vampire, despite being better than the other vampires.
In fact, in a scene that demonstrates Farid’s bravery, he gets bitten by one of the vampires on his hand. Nadja saves his life by cutting off his hand to prevent him from turning into one. As Farid moves back to the cockpit, he asks if there’s a nurse on the plane. You think he’s asking for himself. Instead, he’s asking for a passenger who was drilled with the food cart in the stomach and quips, “He’s got it worse than I do.” His hand is missing! What a man.
Unfortunately, Farid ought to have let that man suffer because he turns out to be a selfish idiot anyway and unlocks Eightball from the bathroom in the hopes of being bitten so he doesn’t die. That’s what ultimately unleashes Eightball on the rest of the passengers.
Now, the story between Nadja and Elias was rather beautiful, if you can believe that a mother vampire and her son can be a beautiful story within a horror movie about vampires and a hijacked plane. But it’s true! She’s trying to protect him and be as “normal” as possible and he’s also trying to protect her from the other passengers scared of her, the terrorists, the terrorists-turned-vampires, and ultimately, herself.
In one gorgeous, beautiful scene, Nadja and then Farid are able to kick Eightball off the plane and then to rescue Nadja, Elias cuts his own hand and drips some blood into her mouth. The stubborn kid then tries to hug her, but she keeps pushing him away, knowing how dangerous it is. While that back-and-forth goes on, the door where Eightball flew out of is still open and we get gorgeous passing shots of sunrise-lit clouds.
Along with trying to stubbornly hug is mother, Elias makes a lot of dumb decisions. For one, him trying to escape when the hijackers take over the plane is what causes Nadja to get shot in the first place. Then, he’s the one who tussles with Eightball over a gun and causes one of the airplane windows to be shot out. And then he disobeys Nadja and Farid by trying to go to the rear of the plane with the detonators, which causes further vampire chaos.
Nonetheless, Elias is one brave little kid. The crazy kid is loaded into an ambulance to be taken away from the RAF base and instead, manages to stab the emergency technician and ESCAPE FROM THE AMBULANCE. Yes, he jumped out of a moving ambulance and starts running back to the plane. You gotta respect it.
When he gets back to the plane area, not only have the RAF been overwhelmed, predictably, by the passenger vampires, but Nadja, now that she’s drank plenty of blood, has gone almost full vampire instead of her half-measure vampire. She looks more beastly than ever. After all that’s transpired, Elias finally realizes that she’s too far gone and with a detonator hidden in a teddy bear, he blows up her and the entire plane.
I was glad Farid survived and it seems like the RAF doesn’t think he’s a terrorist anymore after seeing the footage of the vampires, as they “uncuff” him (I guess they managed to cuff his good hand to his stump).
Overall, come on. I love me a good vampire movie and name the last time we got a legitimately scary, tension-filled and original vampire film?! Add in the hijacking and plane disaster aspect of it and this was a load of unexpected fun. And you have to give the film further credit that unlike a lot of other horror films, this one didn’t tease a sequel of any kind or that the monsters got away or were still somehow alive.
Read this script on paper and it probably seems as campy as Snakes on a Plane. And maybe someone else would have taken it in that direction. But in execution? This film rocked.
If you’re looking for two hours of such fun, then check this out and yes, sorry, you’ll have to get used to the dubbing.