the teaser trailer for this film first ran in theaters,
it featured a laugh inducing hook that hinted at the supernatural.
Tie this to the name Wes Craven, and you have the makings
of a rather dull slasher film. Boring beyond words, no?
I recall giggling in my seat, elbowing the viewer next to
me while pointing at the screen as Cillian Murphy’s
eyes turned to red, a backfired attempt to send a chill
down the spines of the audience.
the wrong message was sent as the sequence seemed to imply
that Murphy’s character was, perhaps, either the devil
or the grim reaper or…ahhh, who cares, right? Why
waste precious real estate discussing any of this at all?
When the actual trailer finally rolled into cineplexes,
all preconceived notions regarding this film were turned
on their ear. All thoughts of the supernatural evaporated
as it occurred to me that Craven may have actually gone
in a different direction altogether. Either way, the film
didn’t look like it would be worth the time spent
screening it, and this film, surprisingly, proved me wrong.
Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is a workaholic. She pines away
each day working extra hours and pouring her youthful exuberance
into her job, managing what we are told is the classiest
hotel in the Miami area. When we meet her, she is rushing
to catch a flight home from a funeral in Texas. We learn
that her parents are divorced, her grandmother recently
passed away, and if it weren’t for a family tragedy,
Lisa would never have touched her vacation hours.
handles these scenes deftly, treating them as natural occurrences
in real peoples’ lives. Her phone conversation with
her assistant Cynthia (Jayma Mays) plays out in procedural
fashion. Rather than rushing the details, Craven plays them
straight, walking us through the day to day life as a hotel
manager. We watch as Lisa takes the time to walk Cynthia
through the steps of remedying a customer issue despite
running late to catch her flight home. After all, if her
character wouldn’t rush through something that means
this much to her, why should Craven?
treatment of flight delays is treated in a similar fashion.
Line after line is followed by hours of waiting in terminals,
and as Craven obviously truncates the waiting time, he takes
care to make his cuts subtle enough to avoid calling attention
to the passage of time. When Lisa meets Jackson Rippner
(Cillian Murphy), he comes to her defense in a long line
after an Irate Passenger (Loren Lester) chews out the Ticket
Agent (Paulina Hunter), causing Lisa to revert into “manager-mode.”
is smooth and calm, flirtatious and amicable. He says the
right thing to side with Lisa’s defense of the poor
Ticket Agent, and quickly asks Lisa to dinner in a slyly
is guarded, and her past seems to hide a deeper cause for
this than merely her parents' divorce and the recent death
in the family. After a woman errantly douses Lisa with her
iced coffee, we learn that she keeps hidden a gnarly scar
above her chest, and the mystery behind Lisa’s complex
nature deepens because of it.
trailer denotes, Lisa opts to dine with Jackson, and she
later meets up with him on the plane where, as it would
seem fate would have it, they wind up seated next to one
another. They politely flirt and coyly dance around one
another’s advances until the plane lifts off, at which
point Jackson’s demeanor seems to shift focus to her
father. Lisa assumes that he is, once again, acting out
of nobility by distracting her from her fears of flying,
but Jackson is quick to point out the error of her assumption.
on business, and as it would happen, his business pertains
to Lisa. There it is, the exact same sequence from the teaser
without the “red eye” effect, yet Cillian’s
delivery is sharp and creepy enough to cut through the façade
and send chills down your spine in one fell swoop.
Eye is a tightly wound thriller that accomplishes more
than it likely set out to initially. It is not simply a
hostage on a plane film, nor is it a simple woman in danger
conceit. Craven manages to re-introduce the hostage scenario
in a poignant, engaging, and downright captivating fashion.
What truly shocks is that he accomplishes all of this in
a mere hour and twenty-five minutes.
may not be inclined to give Red Eye a chance this
weekend, but it would be a mistake not to consider it. Red
Eye marks a return to simple, concise storytelling,
and remains proof positive that Craven still has something
to offer audiences. It’s far from perfect, but it’s
a fun ride and well worth a look.