Netflix UK film review: Blood Red Sky
James R | On 04, Aug 2021
Director: Peter Thorwarth
Cast: Carl Anton Koch, Peri Baumeister
Where to watch Blood Red Sky online in the UK: Netflix UK
A plane travels from Germany to New York, only for things to go awry mid-flight. Making an emergency landing at an air base in Scotland, it’s quickly surrounded by the military, but, just when we expect some hostages or hijackers to emerge, instead another figure steps out: a young boy clutching a teddy bear. That unusual starting point sets the tone for Blood Red Sky, a thriller that repeatedly flies in unexpected directions.
Director Peter Thorwarth and co-writer Stefan Holtz make it clear from the off that something’s not quite right onboard, as Elias (Carl Anton Koch) and his mother, Nadja (Peri Baumeister), strap themselves in – him anxiously concerned about her health and her heading to America for a life-saving treatment for some kind of blood condition. But when hijackers take over the plane, things descend into messy chaos.
That’s not because of the hijackers themselves but because the film is being hijacked by its own script, as audiences and characters alike discover that the film they’re in is actually something entirely different. That diversion is revealed to us at home slightly sooner, as a flashback clearly lays out Nadja’s predicament, but that only serves to put us firmly on her side of the aisle, as she fights to stay alive and protect Elias.
And that’s where Blood Red Sky pulls its third genre heist, as it moves from airborne thriller to claustrophobic horror and then ultimately to thoughtful maternal tale. There’s fun to be had in the larger-than-life villains (Alexander Scheer as sociopathic flight attendant is certainly good value), but the hijackers and their motivations are left underdeveloped in favour of giving more focus to Nadja and her boy.
In terms of plot, that means that there are more than a few uneven layovers, with a runtime that more than exceeds two hours. But thanks to a strong central cast, it’s never less than entertaining. Played phenomenally by Baumeister and Koch, Nadja and Elias’ sincere bond is what anchors the whole thing, with not only a shared affection and loyalty but also an equal determination to do the right thing no matter what.
Supported by some excellent effects, Baumeister sinks her teeth into the role of a mother who has to unleash her inner monster to protect her son, while also trying to find a way to remain the carer he knows and loves – and while the claustrophobic location adds tension to the surface-level genre thrills, that’s where the real horror lies. The flightplan might last longer than needed, but watching a parent navigate that dilemma makes for a gripping and surprisingly moving ride.
Blood Red Sky is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.