Red Eye

(Wes Craven, USA, 2005)


In a number of films clustering around the first half-decade of the new millennium, a resourceful woman overcomes a good-looking but eventually menacing man by finally getting him onto a turf she knows intimately, inside and out, thus gaining a 'home advantage'. Jennifer Lopez does it in Enough (2002) and Jodie Foster does it in two films, Panic Room (2002) and Flightplan (2005) – with the twist that the known space in that last example is not the domestic hearth, but a plane whose layout the heroine has 'professionally' memorised.

Of course, this scenario, in its different contemporary variations, is pure Female Gothic. And if Wes Craven puts together the aeroplane setting of Flightplan with the domestic terrain of Enough in his no-nonsense knock-off Red Eye – then, no matter how much he tells us (in his DVD audio commentary) that its his 'first thriller', fans of his work know better: the girl who grabs the dream-turned-nightmare guy and pulls him back into the familiar territory of her everyday world is exactly what the Nightmare on Elm St films were all about. And they were the purest Fem Goth going in the '80s.

Red Eye is not much of a movie, despite the interest of its mixed genre elements (thriller/horror/action). It has a lacklustre, telemovie air, and never reaches the De Palma-ish elaborations of Flightplan. But Rachel McAdams is very good, and the switch from in-the-air to in-the-home is well done. Craven's career feels like it is winding down in a genre exercise like this – he sounds (on the DVD track) almost thankful to be able to get a project green-lighted in today's young-buck-obsessed industry – but he may still be able to surprise us. A Vampire in Brooklyn (1995) sequel, anyone?

MORE Craven: Music of the Heart, Scream, Scream 3, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, Shocker

© Adrian Martin July 2006

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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