Red Eye

Year: 2005
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Kevin Williamson
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox
An extremely neat, tight and well crafted little movie, the kind of thing Hitchcock would probably have made. Something of a surprise knowing it came from the Craven stable, but if you're a fan of Craven's you'll know he's a much better storyteller and director than the slasher genre he usually works in allows him credit for (as anyone who's read Fountain Society knows, he's got at least as good a storytelling mind as Michael Crichton).

The trailer cleverly only gives away the attraction thing that happens between Lisa (McAdam) and Jackson (Murphy), and without someone telling you all about it, you'd have no idea what it's all going to be about except that something horrible is going to happen.

An overworked hotel manager flying home on the midnight flight, Lisa has several (seemingly) serendipitous encounters with the handsome, charming Jackson.

All throughout waiting for their delayed flight, having a drink together and realising they're sitting next to each other, Lisa starts to become a little bit intrigued by him, but when the plane takes off it all turns bad.

In a heartbeat, Murphy pulls off a very neat trick; he becomes a cold blooded horror, wearing the same face and the same clothes, and we're as shocked and disbelieving as the unfortunate Lisa. Call your hotel, he tells her, change the room of a prominent political family where my associates can kill them all, or the gunman outside your Dad's house will execute him instead.

The tension, wound twice as tightly in the tiny confines of the aisles, bathrooms and airline seats, goes through the roof, and it all goes to show how the simplest stories about good and evil are the most effective. The attractive leads carry almost the whole movie on their shoulders, the intimate close-ups and demands of expression putting even more pressure on them (especially McAdam), but both shine brightly like the stars they deserve to be.

And after so many years seen as a horror director (maybe even by himself), Craven might be ready to take his place among the mainstream greats. It almost feels like he's had several lives; after making a splash with Last House on the Left, he did some more hack horror before he became a Hollywood golden boy after giving birth to the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

By the time of the bizarre but inventive Wes Craven's New Nightmare, the whole Freddy franchise was a string of low-rent turkeys and it seemed like Craven would wallow the rest of his life in straight-to-video hell.

Then came Scream, making superstars out of him and Williamson, but again - years later, with the third instalment, the inevitable ripoffs like the I Know What You Did Last Summer films and Williamson's flop Teaching Mrs Tingle made Craven look washed up and unoriginal all over again before yet another career renaissance with Red Eye.

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