Red Eye is quite possibly my favorite non-slasher from Wes Craven. It’s full of suspense, dread and in my opinion, some of the best acting to come out of 2005. Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy carry this film on pure chemistry and intensely memorable performances that linger after viewing, coupled with Wes Craven’s growth as a director which is very apparent when viewing this film so soon after some of his earlier works. I hadn’t seen this film since the year it was released and was excited to revisit it, wondering if it would hold up and be as good as I remembered it. It was.
Red Eye follows Lisa Reisert (Racheal McAdams) the acting manager of Lux Atlantic a prestigious hotel, catching the Red Eye flight back home after attending her grandmothers funeral. While in line after her flight is delayed she meets Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy), a handsome, charming and slightly mysterious stranger. The meet again at the airport bar and continue flirting, with Jack trying to guess Lisa’s favorite cocktail before their plane is ready to board. Once on board Lisa is stunned to find that she’s sitting next to Jack, as is he. But after the plane takes off Jack reveals that he is in fact there on business and the business is killing one of Lisa’s guests, Charles Keefe (Jack Scalia), his family along with his homeland security detail. In order for his plan to work, Jack needs Lisa to change Keefe’s room. In order to make her comply Jack reveals that he has a man waiting outside Lisa’s father Joe’s (Brian Cox) house ready to kill him should she not comply. Lisa tries to a number of times to alert the other passengers, and/or trick Jack into thinking she fulfilled her end. But, to no avail as Jack seems to be ahead of her, thwarting all of her attempts as quickly as she can try to execute them, during one of which Jack notices a scar on Lisa’s chest which she refuses to talk about. With time running out till when they land, the deadline set by Jack for her father’s life, Lisa calls her co-worker Cynthia (Jayma Mays) and has her switch Keefe’s room. When Keefe arrives and learns of the room switch he goes against the wishes of his security detail as he personally knows Lisa. As the plane lands Lisa reveals that the scar came from a violent rape ,two years prior and vowed nothing like that would ever happen again, before stabbing Jack in the throat, steals his phone and escapes from the airport. She frantically tries to call the hotel to warn Keefe of the danger while she races home to try and save her father…
A large, perhaps the largest part of why this film is so good is the incredibly solid acting. While I have already praised both McAdams and Murphy, the rest of the cast is almost as good. I say almost because one or two do ham it up just a little. But, I kinda like that. This film has tons of notable actors in minor roles, Brian Cox, Jayma Mays and Kyle Gallner (who is a small cameo role) being those that stand out the most.
While Red Eye is technically a thriller, and ends on an upbeat note diffusing any lingering negative emotions. Red Eye has more than enough dread, foreboding and terror for me classify it as a horror film. If Bitten is a horror film, than so is Red Eye. Wes Cravens yeas as a horror director really shine here and the close, claustrophobic atmosphere he creates is chilling as it memorable.
Final thoughts, like I said this is my favorite non-slasher that I’ve seen by Wes Craven and with so many outstanding films, I think that says a lot about the quality of this film. Red Eye is tense, story driven and impeccably cast and I wish more films came out in this vein. Red Eye also sports what might be the smallest body count of any Wes Craven film I’ve seen at a grand total of two. So if you’re looking for a film that will scare you, while putting you on edge of your seat while lot being bloody or gorey. Well then this just might be the film for you. 9/10