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John Lui
Friday, Aug 1, 2014

Showbiz

Tale about scary flight fails to take off

The Straits Times | John Lui | Friday, Aug 1, 2014

The plane cabin becomes a haunted house as well as a natural prison.

Review Horror

7500 (PG13)

80 minutes

Opens July 31st

1½*/5

The story: Pacific Vista flight 7500 departs Los Angeles for Tokyo. Its passengers include Brad and Pia (Ryan Kwanten and Amy Smart), a couple with relationship troubles. A man, dressed in an oddly formal fashion and carrying a box, suffers a heart attack. Crew members Laura (Leslie Bibb) and Suzy (Jamie Chung) give aid. This is followed by a series of nightmarish incidents befalling everyone on the plane.

It might be tempting to think this film was made hurriedly in the aftermath of the MH370 flight that went missing in March.

But this work, helmed by Japanese horror- meister Takashi Shimizu (Ju-on: The Grudge, 2002; and its American remake and sequel), was completed in 2012 and held in limbo, with neither a cinema nor DVD release.

Perhaps its release is timed to take advantage of public interest in mysterious flight disappearances.

Now that it has seen the light of day, it is apparent why it was held in limbo for so long. It is because this film is a failure, both by horror movie standards and the standards of cinema in general.

The opening scenes set this film up as one that takes a familiar everyday setting - in this case, a commercial flight - and transforms it into something much more sinister. The cabin becomes a haunted house as well as a natural prison from which none can escape.

Shimizu makes frequent use of a haunted-house gimmick, the doorway, for scares. And since plane interiors have dozens of overhead doors for luggage, not to mention curtains, hatches, high-backed seats and stairs (this is a double-decker aircraft), lots of things do lunge out of the darkness.

He also has a great sense of how long to prolong the tension of a door opening before releasing it in a snap.

When the bizarre events start happening, the film flips into mystery mode; passengers dig for answers, along with the audience. Shimizu keeps the audience in the dark as much as the travellers. There are no clues, just premonitions and signs.

That is the crux of the problem: Nothing that happens actually matters. It is just one little unimaginative shock after another, leading up to a ludicrous explanation for the creepy events.

This is unjustified, given the garden path along which the audience has been led.


This article was first published on July 30, 2014.
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