Turbulent travel


Wes Craven, the horror film director and one of my favourite authors, has taken on a high flying thriller and he has done it well. Red Eye, is inspired by movies shot in confined spaces like Phone Booth and Cellular where the director and the cast have to keep interest alive in almost never changing surroundings. Craven and cast do this so you do honestly have to fasten your seat belts aboard a suspenseful, well-acted and above all tightly filmed flight into Hitchcockian territory.

Critic Jeff Shannon writes, “Veteran horror director Craven lends his proven talent to the non-horror thriller Red Eye, turning it into an above-average movie that makes the most of its 85 tension-packed minutes. That’s a perfect running time for a movie like this, in which a resourceful heroine Lisa (Rachel McAdams, the breakout star of 2005) is trapped on a red-eye flight with creepy villain Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy, even more menacing than he was as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins) who’s playing a middle-man in the plot to assassinate a Homeland Security official. He’s got her father pinned down by a would-be killer, using that advantage to coerce Lisa into phoning the luxury resort where she works and arranging to move the target into a pre-set position. It’s a situation from which there is seemingly no escape.”

Comments the BBC, “Villain Jackson is a nasty piece of work, but initially he conceals it well. Says Rachel McAdams, ‘Jackson Rippner is charming and handsome and has some really good lines, knows what to say and how to make a person comfortable, and is very good at reading people.’”

Director Craven adds, “Cillian’s character is very interesting because he’s basically a military type. Everything is cut and dried to him. If you give him a job he’ll do it, he won’t look at the moral repercussions too much he does his job and moves on.”

Murphy thinks, “He’s the guy that works within the parameters of his job, which is to achieve an objective, and he’s probably hugely successful at that. I like the way that he’s probably a guy that these people that he works for put into situations where charisma and charm is essential. And I think he’s a very, very smart guy.”

Critic Kim Newman’s opinion, “The point of this thriller is that the heroine is ultimately looking in a mirror when she sat next to the villain, Jackson Rippner: they are reverse images of each other. Rippner talks about male and female thought processes, emotion against logic, but Lisa starts out fragile and then reveals strength and calculation.”

While they were working on the film, here’s what the cast and the director and an observer had to say. “People have described it as Phone Booth on a plane,” Murphy says of this thriller. Says Craven, “I just wanted to move away from horror films, because I worked on Cursed for more than two years.”

For the majority of the shoot, the suspense premise left the cast and crew confined to a rented 767, which had removable panels and rested on a hydraulic pump that could simulate anything from the gentle sway of taxiing to the bumpy jolts of turbulence. More than 100 extras boarded the plane daily, always wearing the same clothes.

“More than anything, it was cramped,” Craven concludes, “But at least it was a wide-bodied jet.”