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Movies E.C. McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
Red Eye
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RED EYE - 2005
Dreamworks
Ratings: USA: PG-13

WOW!

RED EYE is Wow!

It begins with a man in his house. He is seemingly alone. He walks out of his room and the camera lingers over his wallet. A hand grabs it.

Next we meet Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) a harried hotel manager returning from a mean vacation. No matter where she goes, she's never so far away that she isn't still doing her job, putting out small fires back at her hotel via cell phone. The cell phone will become an important part of this story, as they have with all of us even as far away as Jalalabad. And that reference too, has meaning.

This is not the usual beginning for a Wes Craven flick. In everything from DEADLY BLESSING to SCREAM, Wes spends the first five or so minutes of his movies focusing on one character that abruptly dies. This is how they all start. The death of the initial protagonist introduces the monster or killer. But with the SCREAM series of films, it seemed as if Mr. Craven was emptying out his old bag of tricks and preparing to go in new directions.

The SCREAM movies were all about revealing the standards - storytelling cheats if you will - that had been overused and abused in the Hollywood Horror Thriller genre. It was as if Wes was making a promise to his audience that he would be taking his love of Horror and Thrillers in whole new directions. I've been patiently waiting to see what Wes was going to do next, and RED EYE is it.

A delayed flight means that Rachel will have to catch a red eye flight and her soon to be co-passengers, waiting in line, are getting grumpy. When she comes to the aid of one woman getting harrased by a type A personality in the form of a big well-heeled man, a slight and effeminate looking guy, backs her up. The frail guy (Cillian Murphy: 28 DAYS LATER, BATMAN BEGINS) seems to be far out of his league in standing up to the big guy. Then to make matters worse, he grabs the larger man's arm. Oddly enough, the big guy backs down. Clearly there's more than meets the eye about the little guy and Lisa is impressed.

Seemingly fortunate circumstances repeatedly throw the two together over the course of waiting for the plane, and when they finally board, Lisa discovers that her seat is right next to her new friend. The plane takes off and merry mishaps occur.

There was nothing accidental in their meeting. Her new friend, who calls himself Jack Ripner, has been stalking her for weeks. He has a unique job description. He makes calls and influences people. Influencing people is what he does best, and he has been paid to influence Lisa. The hotel she manages is about to have an important guest: A U.S. Senator who vacations there every year. Every year he gets the same room, but this year, Jack wants Lisa to phone her hotel and, with her power as a manager, give him a room that faces the ocean. If she doesn't, then a hitman waiting outside of her Father's house will kill dear old Dad (Brian Cox: MANHUNTER, THE RING, X2) in as painful a way as possible. Jack doesn't have to make the call to have her father killed. He only has to fail to make the call. Should someone somehow warn her father, and he should break his routine by leaving the house early, then he shall also be killed. Lisa has to race against time, and the chance that her father might arbitrarily find a reason for leaving home early, unaware that it will be his death.

Edge of your seat Thrillers are rare and as the audience gets into them, such stories seem to fall apart as the audience starts second guessing the hero or heroine. "Don't do that, do this!" "Why didn't she do X when she had the chance?"

Amazingly, and to the delight of the audience, Director Wes Craven and writers Carl Ellsworth and Dan Foos, anticipate the audience doing just this. Just as in SCREAM, where Craven and writer Kevin Williamson revealed the tricks they knew from Horror movies, Wes amply demonstrates that he knows where the Thrills in a thriller are. Except this time he doesn't tell you about them, he uses them. Everytime you hear the audience murmur in doubt, Craven delivers a shock that had us squealing in delighted fright. Though frail in appearance, Jack is deceptively nimble and fast both physically and in cleverness. Jack is intellectually formidable and it will take all of Lisa's wits to defeat him. Can she save both the Senator and her Father? You'll be guessing right to the very end of the best Thriller movie I've ever seen!

RED EYE gets all 5 Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2005 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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