Wes Craven: The Scream Years Part 6 – Red Eye (2005)
Released in the same year as Cursed due to that movie’s troubled production schedule, Red Eye would prove to be a definitive shift into the positive from Wes Craven and is possibly one of my favourite movies of his towards the latter end of his career. The plot itself was a simple one and Craven utilised his expertise to create a psychological thriller that would keep the audience on the edge of their seat and rest on the brilliant performances from its leads Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy, who have the lions’ share of screen time between them.
McAdams plays a hotel manager, Lisa, who will be the unsuspecting pawn at the hands of Jackson Rippner (Murphy), a terrorist with his eyes on manipulating her with aim of assasinating US Deputy Secretary of Home Security.
Rippner initially lures Lisa in with his charming demeanour as they have a ‘chance’ encounter before boarding the red eye flight from Dallas to Miami. This appeal soon turns to revolt when his intentions come true, along with the threat on the life of Lisa’s father (Brian Cox).
From here on in, Craven puts us through the wringer as Lisa and Rippner attempt to swing the pendulum of power in their favour. Not an easy feat when the first half of the movie takes place in the small confines of an aeroplane cabin.
This is a testament to Craven’s ability as a director to keep the plot on point, whilst wrenching up the tension with timely poise, lifting the script off the page and onto the screen seamlessly. The focus of the movie is to keep the pace moving, and to entertain for good measure and despite some critics stating that the movie takes a drastic fall towards the climax, I personally feel that it plays out well and could easily revisit the movie again and still find that same joy.
It’s a great cinema going experience if the film in question is a sick ‘em-sock ‘em rollercoaster bash of a ride. And by that I mean, it has to be filled with peaks and valleys on a fairly regular basis.
Ie: The James Wan philosophy of “fill your boots with less scares and more tension” doesn’t really translate into 4DX currency for a movie where the tension is LITERALLY being quiet…
I mean, you’d think being in a seat that moves, blows air near your ears, thumps you in the back and wees water on you only every now and then would make each 4DX moment that much more effective – “use your bouncer sparingly” as they say in cricket. But no. All you do is stew and count the money you’ve paid to sit in a chair that – for the most part – behaves like a chair.
So there’s that piece of worldly advice we have to impart on you – don’t see it in 4DX. But should you see it at all?
Well fans of this website may recall the evening Saul Muerte and I first saw A Quiet Place back during a time before The Great Pandemic – where people could and would freely mingle about in public spaces with no face masks and no pants (I know, it sounds like science fiction…) – and we both instantly jumped online afterwards and pronounced AQP The Greatest Horror film of 2018. And we were right.
So that means/meant writer/director John Krasinski had big shoes to fill 2nd time round, made more and less difficult by the fact they were his shoes.
But what kind of elephants are we talking here? The biggest one – immediately – is that as a film, AQP is quite self contained and not really all that franchisable.
A fact supported by Krasinski who stated, when approached by The Powers That Be, that neither he, nor the other 2 co-creators of the film (Bryan Woods and Scott Beck) were really interested in continuing with another installment.
Yet (obviously) this stance soon flexed and now we have a sequel where it must be said, one didn’t naturally sit before.
Why? You may ask? Well for the simple reason there were no real dangling threads or cliffhanger moments at the end of the first film. The monsters did this. The family did that. Problems were put forth and tension and scares were aplenty as said problems were solved. There was even a noble self-sacrifice thrown into the mixl. Cue end credits.
So if we have to enter sequel territory, we must unearth (yet again) our Surgeons of Horror list of what-a-good-sequel-needs-to-be-called-a-good-sequel folder. They are…
Identify the ideas, themes & executional elements that make the first film great. Or at least good. Or at least worthy of being sequelised.
Pay homage and do not violate/ignore said ideas and themes and elements.
Introduce new/expanded themes, ideas and elements that will NATURALLY ALIGN to your first ideas, themes & elements. (Ie: Don’t use your second movie to discredit & contradict your first).
To underline point 3 – DO NOT rehash the first film and just give people “more of the same”.
DO NOT-NOT rehash the first film by giving more of the same…. BUT “BIGGER”.
Be a good enough stand-alone film by itself.
There. Six simple rules, set in cinematic stone. Follow them and you’ll have a sure fire critical and commercial hit on your hands that will age well over the decades.
So much easier said than done. Balance – as with everything in life – is key and oh-so hard to achieve.
So – where does AQP2 sit with the above 6?
Well in short it nails a lot of the above. But falls short on one. But which one?
Well – you’re gonna have to see that for yourself. But don’t splurge on 4DX.
In terms of meat and potatoes – what you see in the trailer is essentially an accurate structural portrayal of the movie (which might give a hint as to which point it failed on).
It starts with a prequel opening set up (a “Day 1” for fans paying attention during the first film) where we find the Abbott family (their surname is Abbott! Who knew!? Again… problems that crop up when your cast has to be quiet…) enjoying everyday life in everyday country town America before the killer aliens arrive.
Then we flash forward to exactly where the last film left off and Emily Blunt’s character of Evelyn (again – who knew!? Probably super fans of the first movie. You know the drill, comments below etc.) takes her 2 children (Regan and Marcus) and newly formed bubba Abbott to look for other survivors because they have a weapon to fight the aliens now (a homemade Cochlear Implant on steroids) and staying at their flooded/burnt down farm is not an option any more.
There they meet up with Cillian Murphy’s character (Emmett) as seen from the trailer and from there – well – it becomes a story of survival, scares, triumph, man’s inhumanity to man (standard for all post apocalyptic films, which is a cliche to be sure, but seeing as we are all currently living through a global horror movie – and will be for some time yet – sadly, not that unbelievable) and personal growth.
Krasinski himself has gone on record and has (more or less) stated he wanted to focus on the heart of the film, and not so much the head. So for those of you who were invested in the character of Regan from the first movie will be glad to hear her avatar Millicent Simmonds gets to stretch her acting chops nicely this time round.
But as for the aforementioned head stuff – yes there are still hold-your-breath moments, special FX’s and peril. If there is one thing the first film did exceptionally well and does well here (with multiple characters simultaneously no less) is place people in tension filled situations where cold calculating calm is required to survive. But are they in the same league as the first film?
Well. 5 out of 6 ain’t bad. In fact it’s good. It’s very very good. Such a shame the first film was so great. What a fantastic curse, as they say.
– Antony Yee
PS: Be sure to check out our future article where we elaborate on the Six Points to make a great sequel.
100 years ago the Roaring Twenties came into effect with a social and economic boom that pushed the boundaries of experimentation and exploration dubbing it the crazy years.
Cinema has evolved greatly during this time and spawned Robert Miene’s silent horror in German Expressionism, which is still considered a classic among some critics.
While the tides have shifted and the boundaries of what is classified as horror has twisted through the years, moving numerous debates and discussions along the way, we come to a time when originality can be hard to come by, or perhaps the audience has become too critical and our perceptions have changed.
Can the films of today cause a deeper development in the genre that we’ve come to love and like the films that were born a century ago stir the insanity again and break new ground in the process?
Let’s look at what 2020 has in store and see if indeed it will deliver.
This film has led some early reports to compare it to Alien but in the ocean deep instead of the far reaches of space. It does boast Kristen Stewart in the cast who may divide audiences and has been a bit hit and miss of late in her film choices but she is supported in this instance by Vincent Cassel, who is known for choosing experimental films. Does this then mean that this team of underwater researchers will uncover not only a few beasties but also break new ground in the process?
Prediction: Neither sink or swim. A drifter that will entertain some but not cast anything new into the cinematic landscape.
Jan 24 – The Turning
Based on Henry James novel, The Turn of the Screw and produced by Steven Spielberg, it stars Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate) and Finn “Can my hair grow any longer?” Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and bears close scrutiny as director Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep) is set to release an interpretation of the novel in Netflix series, The Haunting of Bly Manor, his follow up to the successful The Haunting of Hill House.
Prediction: Director Floria Sigismondi will no doubt bring some artistic visual flair that is evidence from her music videos, but could possibly fall foul of “popcorn syndrome” – Light, fluffy with a bit of crunch and serves the masses, but ultimately has no substance.
Initially I was really excited about this release, being a fan of the Ju On franchise, plus Nicolas Pesce’s work with The Eyes of My Mother, and Piercing. Both movies have pushed the boundaries of comfort and shot in stylistic fashion that I was keen to see where Pesce would take The Grudge. Early reports haven’t been favourable however, so it could be another disappointment in the first month of the new decade.
Prediction: Could be another franchise instalment too many. The name alone will pull in the numbers, yet may not hit the mark on the scare front.
Jan 31 – Gretel and Hansel
It’s been over 200 years since The Brothers Grimm fashioned the fairy tale about a cannibalistic witch that kidnaps two children roaming in the woods. The fact that it is still resonates today is a testament to the strength of the storytelling and it will be interesting to see the story told from the perspective of Gretel played by Sophia Lillis (IT) who has already proved compelling as the young Beverly Marsh.
Prediction: Better than your average fair without necessarily offering anything new or compelling with the horror genre.
Some may argue its place in this list, but it is billed as a psychological horror and director Robert Eggers has already made a name for himself in the artistic expressionism world within the genre with his debut feature, The VVitch, a film that also divided audiences. American audiences have already seen the movie too as it was released there last year, but as yet Australian audiences are still to see Eggers’ sophomore outing which pits Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson against one another in a battle of wills and sanity in a remote and confined island.
Prediction: Will wow audiences looking for the alternative and alienate those more into the mainstream. Either way, both audiences will applaud the performances and Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke will paint a stunningly beautiful canvas.
Feb 13 – Fantasy Island
Blumhouse Productions are about to shake things up again by breathing new life into a cult 70s tv series. With a star-studded cast – Michael Pena (Crash), Maggie Q (Nikita), Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars), and Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). On an island where your fantasies come true, only to turn into nightmares and the guests must figure out its mystery in order to survive.
Prediction: Another success for Jason Blum and the team which will connect with the cinema-going public. If it’s played right, it could offer a fresh take using a blend of fantasy and horror that could also spark a franchise
Feb 21 – Brahms: The Boy ll
This one is a bit of an oddity. Whilst its predecessor was a middle of the road affair and proved to be better than expected. It did feel like a one-off movie that didn’t necessarily warrant any further journey into the world of Brahms. A sequel is here though and will pick up with the doll being discovered by another family.
Prediction: A flop that will fall by the wayside and may not even make a blip on the radar.
Feb 27 – The Invisible Man
Another Blumhouse movie, this time in collaboration with Universal to resurrect their monsters franchise after the abysmal Tom Cruise vehicle from a few years ago. In what is potentially a ripe and current topic being explored in domestic violence as its central theme The Invisible Man boasts a cracking cast with Elisabeth Moss taking lead duties. It’s also in great hands with director Leigh Whannel steering the ship following his successful movie Upgrade from last year, plus Whannel is a storyteller, so expect a decent script to boot.
Prediction: The first big success of the year bringing the Universal monsters franchise back on track and paving the way for future projects with The Bride, Renfeld, The Invisible Woman, and Frankenstein.
Mar 20 – A Quiet Place Part 2
The question is whether director John Krasiniski can repeat the winning formula from the first movie. This War of the Worlds style feature with an audio twist is more sci-fi than horror, but with the family in plight scenario held a strong connection with the audience. How will this translate now that there is an absent father?
Prediction: Cillian Murphy will provide some much needed gravitas to the narrative which will be strong enough to lift the audience through with some decent ups and downs to wrench up the tension.
Apr 3 – The New Mutants
Since Disney took over Marvel operations, The New Mutants has been stuck in production, deemed a little dark for the House of Mouse questioning how to distribute it. The feature comes across as The Dream Warriors crossed with the X-Men and centres on 5 young mutants held in a secret facility against their will. It also boasts a cracking cast with Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch, Split), and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things).
Prediction: Despite several delays I feel that this film is gonna connect in a big way and pull in a lot of people. It just depends on how dark Disney are willing to go with it.
Apr 17 – Antlers
Little is known about this movie other than it is based on a short story by Nick Antosca the creative mind behind the Channel Zero anthology series. The screenplay must have some potential to have caught the eye of Guillermo Del Toro and put his name down as producer.
Prediction: With Keri Russell in the cast to provide the fantasy elements in reality, this could well be the surprise hit of the year.
May 15 – Saw reboot
Currently titled The Organ Donor starring Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella this reboot of the Saw franchise will see the return of the Jigsaw Killer, but without Tobin Bell… I think? With director Darren Lynn Bousman at the helm once more following his turn overseeing parts 2-4, he is no stranger to the world.
Prediction: Will put bums on seats for the shock gore factor alone, but will the buddy cop drama approach pay off? Time will tell.
Jun 11 – Candyman
This is gonna be a tough one to watch for me as I am such a huge fan of the original movie and like Freddy, Candyman would haunt my dreams for a long time after viewing. A lot of that has to do with the strength of Clive Barker’s short story coupled with Tony Todd’s personification of the titular character. Part of me is willing for this to be a success though as I can see room for the movie to be delivered to a modern audience using folklore and mythology at its core, and the storyline itself can transcend easily through the ages. It will be interesting to see a female perspective in director Nia DaCosta to follow Helen’s journalistic investigations.
Prediction: Jordan Peele has attached his name to this project and is clearly passionate about the story, but one can’t help but feel this is one step too far in rekindling the old flame that resides within the Candyman story.
Jul 2 – Ghostbuster: Afterlife
I know it’s technically not a horror film, but I’m including this in the mix for its nostalgic value in me the original movie paved the love of horror that I have and opened the door to many more glorious visions in the genre ever since. The original team will return in some shape or form, but primarily the film centres around a mother and her two children who set up on a farm only to discover something paranormal lurking in the town.
Prediction: Another film that will be resting on the merits of the first film, and while it’s great to see Jason Reitman take on the franchise following in his father’s footsteps, one can only hope that there will be enough comedy, horror and sci-fi to capture that old magic, but I think it will just be a glimmer rather than that sparkle.
Jul 10 – The Purge 5
Supposedly returning for the final instalment the 12 hour no holds-barred, crimefest ignited something in the movie-going audience. It has seen five feature length instalments and 2 seasons.
Prediction: More of the same, so if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love it. I for one think the films are fun and enjoyable and it will be interesting to see how James DiMonaco will conclude things.
Jul 30 – Morbius
Sony has promised to take the Marvel universe into dark territory before with Venom and here they intend to do so again with Morbius, the Living Vampire. Jared Leto will no doubt bring the goods for the titular role and is in good company with Matt Smith, Jared Leto, and Tyrese Gibson.
Prediction: Director Daniel Espinosa provides great entertaining and solid movies, such as Safe House and Life, and I see no change here to his formula, but still question if they can go dark enough to make it compelling for horror fans.
Sep 11 – The Conjuring 3 aka The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
The Conjuring universe has progressed in leaps and bounds since its initial release in 2013. There has been the odd blips, but essentially the films continue to entertain and scare audiences. This latest film will once again see the Warrens at the centre of proceedings, this time with one of their most publicised cases that bore witness to Arne Cheyenne Johnson claiming that he was possessed when he murdered.
Prediction: Solid acting, tight storyline, but may fall down with its delivery and exposition. Unfortunately Director Michael Chaves didn’t deliver with The Curse of La Llorona, so I fear that this may end up in a similar way, but am still willing to give it a chance.
Sep 17 – Last Night In Soho
Not much known about this one, but Edgar Wright has a knack for tapping the pulse of classic films and adapting their essence for a modern audience. This time around the psychological horror is inspired by Don’t Look Now and Polanski’s Repulsion both high in my all-time favourite lists
Prediction: A killer cast in Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp, this could be the ‘big hit’ of the year.
Oct 15 – Halloween Kills
In 2018, David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jason Blum attempted the impossible, the resurrection of Michael Myers that would connect both fans of the original and connect with a new audience. By delving into the subject of trauma and the impact that this has on its victims, Myers became both topical and harrowing. His sheer brutality and the force in which he attacks his victims made his carnage all the more disturbing.
Prediction: The name and sheer presence of Myers will bring the audience to the screens, but can they still make him relevant? They can’t rest on the nostalgic nods this time around. It’s a fine line to walk on, for if they get it wrong, they could find their final instalment, Halloween Ends a tricky sell.
TBC – Army of the Dead
For sheer shits and giggles, and action-pumped mayhem from visual storyteller Zack Snyder, about a group of mercenaries who decide to rob a casino during a zombie outbreak, this film concludes our list.
Prediction: Starring Dave Bautista, Army of the Dead will be entertaining if nothing else. A perfect answer for those just wanting to get their kicks and not have to think too deeply.