Saturday, August 28, 2021

Movie Reviews: Blood Red Sky

Blood Red Sky
directed by Peter Thorwath
This is a German supernatural horror film that bears a great deal of visual resemblance to the classic German movie Nosferatu and many of the descendants of that film, most notably the original TV version of Stephen King's Salem's Lot
It also thematically reminded me of the short story "Popsy", also by Stephen King, in which a child trafficker finds that the child he's chosen to kidnap is (a) not normal and (b) has a relative, the title character, who is protective in the extreme. So Blood Red Sky is set up to be a kind of extended mugging the monster situation with the twist that the monster is linked to our side by a tenuous connection to its child. So what's greater, maternal love or the need to be who you are? 
Another theme explored here was the fact that parents will do and say things to provide for or protect their children that either (a) the children will not understand or (b) are simply immoral. The parent simply can't tolerate if the child was to see or learn about those actions, even if those actions were needed for the child to survive. 
This could be something as prosaic as taking a demeaning job as a house domestic and tolerating racist treatment and language in order to help provide for a child's law school education or overturning a kitchen table and threatening racist co-workers with an axe if they should speak out of pocket to you ever again. 

The fear that the child will see the extremes to which the parent will go to provide and protect is what really animates this film, not the supernatural effects, which are nonetheless, impressive. 
A young German woman Nadja (Peri Baumeister) and her pre-teen son Elias (Carl Koch) are travelling to New York City from Germany. Nadja has a rare disease, which among other things has caused her hair to fall out. She is taking medicine for her condition but it's unclear how much longer the medicine will be effective. 
The medicine makes Nadja nauseous and doesn't seem to have the same impact that it used to have. Elias seems to know more about the medicine and the underlying condition than one would expect a child of his years to understand.
We know from the first few moments that the trip didn't go as planned because the aircraft bearing the mother and son has been diverted to a RAF base in Scotland.
The British think that there's been some sort of terrorist attack, as the person flying the plane is not the pilot or co-pilot but a Muslim passenger named Farid (Kais Setti). Faris insists he's not a terrorist but the British authorities don't believe him. 
The British allow Elias off the plane but intend to wait until night to either storm the plane or decide what to do. 
Farid says this is a horrible idea but that's what the British expect him to say. 
Elias has a story to tell, one that nobody in the RAF, or anywhere else will believe. 
The viewers see the story though. There has been a terrorist attack, though not in the way that the British surmise. Blood Red Sky's big problem is that it was too long. It was too long because the director felt the need to explain everything, often with multiple flashbacks. 
And because so much was explained, often too early, the sense of shock and surprise which animates films like this was muted, even damaged. I was disappointed by that. There's a lot of carnage, perhaps too much, if you are a sensitive viewer. 
Nonetheless I'd say this movie is a little above decent for the genre, entirely because of Baumeister's nuanced and even poignant take on a mother who will sacrifice everything for her son, even as her time on this planet diminishes more quickly. There's little sexual innuendo or female flesh, which is different from many American movies of this genre.
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