Courtesy of Netflix

Vampires are an age-old staple of horror. We come back to them as a source of inspiration and, more often than not, the creature always manages to be interpreted in a fresh way. This is definitely the case in Peter Thorwarth’s BLOOD RED SKY, a tale that starts off initially as a hijack thriller situation, but then turns into something more. The dial is ramped all the way up and viewers will find it difficult to pull away as they wait to see what happens next in this exciting vampire thriller.

The film stars Peri Baumeister (“The Last Kingdom”, Little Miss Doolittle), Kais Setti (“Dogs of Berlin”, Tracing Addai), Alexander Scheer (The Aftermath, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), Dominic Purcell (“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”, “Prison Break”), and Graham McTavish (“Outlander”, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).

In BLOOD RED SKY, the film initially starts off in media res before jumping back to the beginning of the story. Viewers are introduced to Nadja (Peri Baumeister) and her son Elias (Carl Anton Koch), who are on an overnight flight from Germany to New York. Nadja suffers from a mysterious illness that requires frequent injections of some sort of drug concoction. While in the air, things take an unsuspected turn when a group of terrorists violently take control of the plane, threatening the lives of the passengers in the process. While the terrorists are prepared, they weren’t prepared for Nadja and the secrets she keeps within. At the film’s core, the fight for survival is imminent. But, from Nadja’s perspective, once her condition becomes known to the rest of the passengers and hijackers on board, she has to fight to ensure no one becomes like her – a vampire.

The film sets the mystery early on, capturing the viewer’s attention within the first opening five minutes. From there, BLOOD RED SKY is the equivalent of slowly boiling a frog alive. The way things are laid out by screenwriters Thorwarth and Stefan Holtz is a masterclass in how to keep viewers on their toes. The dial is steadily increased and, just when you think things can’t get more intense, they most definitely do. And what sells it even further is how willing all the actors are to sink their teeth into the material. Pun intended.

Courtesy of Netflix

The casting of this film is well-done. Peri Baumeister’s Nadja is multi-faceted, and Baumeister handles her character’s internal struggle with ease. It is all too easy to believe in what we see onscreen. As she becomes more monstrous, her grasp of the creature’s physicality is outstanding. Kais Setti’s Farid is easily going to be a character favorite, delivering an empathy and relatable that resounds off the screen. Alexander Scheer’s Eightball is absolutely psychotic, and it’s easy to tell that he’s having a ball nailing whatever it is that gets thrown at him. Carl Anton Koch’s Elias shows a lot of promise from the young actor. The character itself is smart and resourceful, having grown up with his mother’s condition. But there’s something about how Koch delivers it that really hits.

Vampires are the primary focus of the film, and kudos have to be given for how the makeup department handled the design and application of the vampires we see in the film. And, make no mistake, this is not a romantic vampire ala Twilight or True Blood. No, these creatures will derp you up. From the ears to the teeth to the contact lenses (real nice touch to amplify that night vision), it just works. Of particular note, Chris Lyons’s teeth designs for the vampire are also memorable; this is not the type of vamp you want clamping down on your neck. All of this in tandem with how the viewer gradually gets to see the evolution of Nadja’s inner monster coming out is definitely something to behold. And, Baumeister’s and Scheer’s physical tics and animalistic mannerisms help bring the entire visual together.

BLOOD RED SKY is exciting. It’s thrilling and might be a surprise to many when they go watch it. I did go into the film without knowing much, and was led down a wild path that my brain was frantically trying to keep up with. It’s heartbreaking in its conclusion, but every single moment leading up to its conclusion feels earned. The same can be said with every twist and obstacle Thorwarth and Holtz throw into the story. That coupled with the committed performances from the film’s cast and the vampiric portrayal onscreen, I honestly can’t recommend this enough. As a general warning, there is animal death featured in this film. But, it is relevant to the storyline.

BLOOD RED SKY will be released exclusively on Netflix on July 23, 2021.

Sarah Musnicky
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Movie Reviews

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