Red Eye
R3 - Hong Kong - Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (22nd February 2006).
The Film

Being a Wes Craven fan Iíd always followed the directorís work; heís very much a legend among horror filmmakers. His Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) sparked new interest in horror and forever made it an ordeal for people to fall asleep. I saw that movie when I was eleven, and was afraid to close my eyes at night. Deadly Friend (1986) taught me that one day I too could have robotic parts implanted in me (If give the opportunity to get a bionic eye or arm, Iíd be cool with that) and in 1996 Scream reinvigorated a once dead genre, and introduced a new crowd to the filmmaker. Heís done so much for a genre that has for the longest time been kicked to curb and considered b-grade fodder, all you have to do is look at the movie listings now youíll see at least one horror kicking around playing on a screen somewhere. Scaring people has become big business, just as big as action, romance, and sci-fi. Thereís just something about sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers and connecting with the images and sounds onscreen on a strictly primal level, fear, done well is never forgotten. This is something Craven has, unfortunately failed to do for a while now. Of recent times Craven has slipped wayward, a few examples are Music of the Heart (1999) a drama about a teacher (Meryl Streep) trying to teach inner city kids the joys of the violin, what? I know what youíre thinking-and yes, he did direct that and nobody saw it. He returned to horror with Scream 3 (2000) arguably the weakest of the trilogy and by that point I think we were all a little over Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her troubles with staying alive. Then came Cursed (2005) a god awful attempt at a teen werewolf film, it seemed that Cravenís time was up-or was it.
Cursed was a terrible ordeal for Craven, plagued by many problems from script issues, cast members changed as often as Uwe Boll picking up another video game franchise to screw with, the special effects had problems, the list goes on. All these problems clearly showed in the final product. It seemed like Craven gave in and just wanted to finish the film and put it to rest once and for all. It came, was blasted by critics and movie-goers and then subsequently forgotten, well almost. Therefore I must admit I came into Red Eye (although not exactly a horror per say, the film did have some classic horror touches) with a little trepidation, but within the first 20 minutes my fears were alleviated, it was clear this film wasnít going to be another Cursed, besides this one has Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy, two actors Iíve come to admire over the last few years. Murphy especially in the fantastic Danny Boyle zombie-fest 28 Days Later (2002) and then his twisted and brilliant performance as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins (2005), on the flip-side I fell in love with McAdams in Wedding Crashers (2005) and was impressed with her range as an actress in The Notebook (2004). What ensued over the next 80 odd minutes made me forget about Cursed almost altogether and enjoy this film for what it is, a popcorn thriller.
In Red Eye a young hotel manager, Lisa (Rachel McAdams) is trying to get back home to Miami after attending her grandmotherís funeral in Dallas. While checking in she meets Jackson (Cillian Murphy) a charming young man who coincidentally is seated next to her on the plane. Soon after take off, this charming man is not what he seems. Jackson threatens her with the murder of her father if she doesnít cooperate. Lisa must assist him in executing the assassination of a top political figure; the head of Homeland Security Charles Keefe (Jack Scalia) by using her managerial pull to move him form one room in the hotel to the next. If she complies her fatherís life will be spared; otherwise sheíll have another funeral to attend.
I was generally pleasantly surprised by this film, it was for the most part very satisfying. Well for the most part that is, for the first 2/3 of the film it works on a Hitchcockian level, making for a very tense and nail biting thriller. However the filmís final act drops the ball and the moment the plane lands it turns 180 degrees into a paint-by-numbers action film, complete with a car chase and a heroine fighting back moment. There were times in the filmís third act that just make you want to shout at the screen, WHY? especially since it was all going so well. I can understand a need to get as far from the antagonist, but when your heroine suddenly inherits an ability to kick ass, especially head-butting a guy and not feeling any effects is a little beyond belief. Consider for a moment how painful a head-butt is, I think Iíve made my point. There should have been a far more intelligent way to wrap this film up than by taking the easy route. It seemed a little like a copout, especially since an audience have invested a fair amount of time into the film and its characters.
The film takes place predominantly in one confined location the filmmakers have managed to capture a claustrophobic feel, combine that with the fact our lead female character is seated next to a psycho makes for entertaining viewing. The dialogue interchange between these two characters is very well executed, made all the more convincing with the strong casting of this pair of McAdams and Murphy. Murphy has this uncanny ability to transform from a lovable nice guy to a menacingly cold evil at the blink of an eye. Heís perfectly convincing in this role. McAdams is also impressive, and manages to play ball with Murphy the whole way through, one scene in particular, the bathroom scene on the plane, McAdams commanded the screen and she was all by herself for half of the duration of that scene. She musters enough strength to get up and that provides her character the motivation to continue, she absolutely sells that moment.
The premise for this film is rather straight forward and Iím glad they didnít try to pad it out or convolute it with additional sub-plots or s**t that is ultimately unnecessary, the result of this is a rather lean film, clocking in at around 80 minutes it doesnít overstay its welcome. Which, in this case is a good thing, other filmmakers would have seen a need to add more, Craven knew when to stop. On another note I wasnít exactly inspired by the score either, it had a Ďmade-for-TVí feel to it and aside from adding to the tension onscreen it really didnít do much else.
Red Eye isnít the most inventive thriller, but it has enough in it to keep you on the edge of your seat, just the thought of being 30,000 feet up in the air seated next to a guy threatening to kill a loved one is enough to freak you out. Itís a shame they couldnít keep that level of tension going all the way through.


Presented in the filmís original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1, this anamorphic transfer is solid as a rock, the image is sharp and detail is beautifully rendered. Colors are crisp, clean and realistic especially skin tones. Blacks are bold and deep, shadow detail is consistent. I cold not detect any flaws with this transfer, no grain, no artefacts, no edge enhancement of any kind. Itís what you should expect from a new release film a truly perfect transfer.


Two audio tracks are included on this release, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track as well as a Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English soundtrack and found it to be very electrifying. Not only was the dialogue crystal clear, but the directional effects and environmental surrounds put you right in the middle of a plane. I found this experience very immersive, the realistic sounds mixed into the surround space felt natural and never out of place with the woofer channel coming into play on occasion, especially during the turbulence sequences and the hotel rocket attack. The music also made effective use of the surround channels, it was never felt like it was overbearing the dialogue and the volume was pushed during the more exciting and thrilling sequences of the film.
The film also includes optional subtitles in English for the hearing impaired, Simplified Chinese, Thai, Mandarin, Cantonese and Indonesian.


First up is a feature-length audio commentary by director Wes Craven, producer Marianne Maddalena and editor Patrick Lussier. This extra is not advertised on the package for some odd reason, this minor oversight aside the track is very good. The participants provide a generous amount of information regarding the production during the filmís runtime. I was very pleased to hear Cravenís thoughts on the script, the cast and fast turnaround in filming considering his last project prior to this was wrought with set backs and problems. The Producer and editor also chime in with some interesting trivia, especially comment on the filmís short run time and attribute a lean script and tight pace to this allowing the film to flow well and not overstay its welcome. I was very impressed with this track and itís certainly worth a listen.

Next up is ďThe Making Of 'Red EyeĒ featurette that runs for 11 minutes 32 minutes. This is essentially an EPK piece that covers the script, the shooting locations as well as the set used for the planeís interior, practical special effects, developing moments on the plane in what is essentially an uninteresting location, a look at the hotel explosion scene and the bathroom scene in the plane. The featurette goes into brief detail regarding these various aspects of the production, the information provided is just enough to wet your whistle but doesnít entirely satisfy.

"Wes Craven: A New Kind Of Thriller" is the second featurette on this disc and runs for 10 minutes 43 seconds. Here we get a look at the director himself and how heís synonymous with Horror, while Red Eye is considered a thriller and a change of pace for the filmmaker. Craven discusses the difficulty in sustaining energy when 2/3 of your film takes place in a plane with two characters talking. The cast and crew also chime in telling us great it is working for a Ďlegendí like Craven. Basically this is a fluff piece and doesnít really warrant repeat viewing.

A gag reel follows and runs for 6 minutes 29 seconds, this is mainly made of line flubs and mistakes. The reel isnít particularly funny but there are a few hilarious moments with the young girl Rebecca (Brittany Oaks) who is traveling alone in the film. Otherwise just like the featurettes itís not something youíll likely get any repeat value out of.

Rounding out the discís extras is a bonus trailer for the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy Just Like Heaven which runs for 2 minutes 25 seconds. The packaging also states a trailer for Pride & Prejudice (2005) but is nowhere to be found.

I was a little disappointed with the overall quality of the extras, I expected a least a comprehensive making-of, the clear winner here is the commentary, but where is the actual theatrical trailer and teasers? I remember those being some of the best trailers Iíd seen.


The Film: B- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: C+ Overall: B


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