Red Eye: Wes Craven's slick, simple, sassy in-flight terror hits TVNZ Duke

Red Eye (M, 85mins) Directed by Wes Craven ***
With Grandma successfully buried, all Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) wants to do is get back home in one piece.

Ever the workaholic, the Lux Atlantic Resort receptionist has caught the overnight or Red Eye flight from Dallas to Miami in the hope of arriving just in time for the start of the working day. But despite being a people pleaser 24/7 and a specialist in dealing with guests with special needs, even she is tested when her flight is delayed, a fellow airport dweller spills coffee over her suit jacket and she is befriended by the handsome, but overly attentive Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy).

Already suffering from a slight fear of flying, Lisa's nerves are further shaken by the inclement weather still in progress when the flight does eventually get under way. But turbulence turns out to be the least of her worries on Fresh Air Flight 1019.

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Best known for scaring a generation of teens with the likes of The Hills Have Eyes and A Nightmare on Elm St, director Wes Craven also reinvigorated the horror genre with his 1990s Scream trilogy. While Red Eye's psychological thrills marked a departure for the post-modern killer king, it wasn't the first time the former humanities lecturer switched genres with some success _ witness 1999's biopic Music Of the Heart.

Despite an absence of five years from the director's chair prior to this 2005 release, Craven shows he still knows how to ratchet up the tension chiefly using claustrophobic camera angles and conjure up images and scenarios that are the stuff of nightmares.

Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy star in the in-flight horror Red Eye.

Proving that the simplest stories can make the best films, writer Carl Ellsworth's (TV's Xena, Buffy) script cleverly takes its time to establish the major characters before unleashing a sustained last hour of thrills and spills.

Allegedly inspired by one of the noughties other single-location set thrillers, Phone Booth, Red Eye evokes memories of vintage Hitchcock (complete with director and writer cameos). Not all of it succeeds the other airline passengers are thinly sketched stereotypes (the sick young girl travelling on her own, the kindly old lady, the surly businessman), while the finale is the dictionary definition of deja vu.

However, this was the movie that proved how versatile McAdams could be, after her one-note performances in The Notebook and The Wedding Crashers. Who knew, at that stage, she had such depth? Starting out as a seemingly one- dimensional, doe-eyed receptionist who is kind to animals and small children, by the end she is emoting profusely and handling herself in a way that would make Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton proud.

She's a perfect match for the always intense and impressive Murphy (Batman Begins, Peaky Blinders). Behind the haunting baby blues of his character lie a heart of darkness that would give even Freddy Krueger a broken night's sleep.

By the end of Red Eye, Rachel McAdams Lisa Reisert handles herself in a way that would make Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton proud.

A movie that even reveals what happened to CHIPS' Sergeant Getraer and Survivor favourite Colby after their heydays, Red Eye is a slick, sassy little thriller that keeps things short and simple. And like Airplane, Air Force One or Executive Decision, it was a movie that certainly wasnt going to screen on an in-flight entertainment system near you.

Red Eye will screen on TVNZ Duke at 8.30pm on Saturday, March 13.


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