Friday, April 22, 2011

Red Eye

Finding myself in a pawn shop apparently specializing in used movies, I traveled over to the back wall to inspect their vast array of movies ranging from terrible to "meh". After a few minutes of browsing, I found my eyes drawn to Red Eye. Featuring Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and that-one-girl from Wedding Crashers and Mean Girls (Rachel McAdams), I figured, "Hey. Might be good." The fact that it is directed by Wes Craven also assisted my interest. While I know next to nothing about this guy, he is fairly renowned as being a pretty good director of horror movies (from what I heard), and so worth checking out.

The Premise

Red Eye's plot is based upon a girl meeting a guy in an airport while getting ready to take a flight home. They flirt, they bond, they connect. He seems like a really great guy. In a way, it is every girl's dream, to spontaneously run into Mr. Right, the impossible equivalent of Mr. Darcy, without even trying. They have some fun times together while the flight is delayed, and then part ways once boarding call is announced. But, lo and behold, there he is seated next to her on the flight! What a stroke of luck! Or so you would think...

But the fact of the matter is that Cillian Murphy is a creepy psycho who is being paid by someone (we never really find out who) to abuse, threaten, and intimidate Rachel McAdams into making some phone calls for him. For Rachel McAdams' character is employed by a hotel where the head of Homeland Security is staying and, by exercising her influence to get the head of Homeland Security to move rooms, he can more easily be assassinated by whomever Cillian Murphy is working for.

However, the motivations and sideplot behind Cillian Murphy is nowhere near as interesting as the dynamic of aggressor and victim between Murphy and McAdams. And, wisely, most of the action is focused upon the two as Rachel McAdams becomes increasingly aware that she needs to find some way to escape, and tries everything she can think of in order to do so.

The Execution

In the scheme of things, this premise isn't enough to carry the movie by itself. For it to work, you have to have two excellent actors in the two lead roles, and they have to be able to sell it. And I have to say that I was impressed by how things turned out. Very impressed.

For unlike just about every single horror movie out there, in Red Eye, the victim is actually smart. Rachel McAdams acts just like you or I would in such a scenario. She doesn't make stupid decisions, and she does her best to fight the situation she is in, both subtly and directly. While Cillian Murphy maxes out his creepy potential and does his best to be physically threatening, by the end of the movie I became convinced that Rachel McAdams could totally kick his ass in a fight. While initially overwhelmed and afraid (understandably), Rachel McAdams manages to turn the tables completely. In my experience, it is highly unusual to see a horror movie where the victim manages to regain self-confidence and make really smart choices. Yet Red Eye features this nonetheless, pleasantly surprising me and making me cheer with every move Rachel McAdams makes.

To a certain extent, this is a product of Cillian Murphy not feeling dangerous enough. While he definitely scores insanely high on creepy mannerisms, actions, and voice, I just wasn't convinced for very long that he posed much of a physical threat to Rachel McAdams. A big part of this was simply how awesome McAdams was, but another part of it is that it is hard to be intimidated for long by a guy built like a reed. Fact of the matter is that Cillian Murphy is one skinny guy and, especially by the end of the movie, he just isn't in a position to cause much harm (I won't say why). However, he is definitely someone who I wouldn't want to be stuck with in a dark alleyway, so it is a hard call to make whether the movie would have been improved by him "feeling more dangerous".


I found this movie very entertaining, much more so than I thought it would be for a horror movie. Considering its genre, I really can't think of many parts that actually shocked or scared me. In terms of what you expect from a horror film, I guess this is a failing. But in terms of being enjoyable overall, I found that Red Eye surpassed my expectations, which was awesome. Rachel McAdams especially impressed me as a very strong female character who, although in a really crappy situation, still manages to handle herself superbly and even admirably.

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