'7500': Film Review

7500 Still - H 2014
Courtesy of Concorde Home Entertainment GmbH

7500 Still - H 2014

Fasten your seatbelts — it’s a bumpy ride

'The Grudge' creator Takashi Shimizu directs this airborne horror thriller

High on altitude but low on veritable scares, 7500 is a barely credible, if not entirely laughable, airplane-set supernatural thriller from The Grudge creator Takashi Shimizu. Less frightening than Red Eye and less heart-pounding than Non-Stop, this B-grade effort plays out like a very serious Snakes on a Plane where the serpents have been replaced by assorted strange phenomena, including a disappearing corpse, a malfunctioning oxygen supply and a host of characters all in need of extensive couples therapy.

None of it adds up to much, even if the voyage starts off smoothly enough before gradually heading into a narrative storm that it never quite escapes from. This may explain why the CBS Films production has thus far skipped a theatrical release in the U.S., landing directly on video in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

A whiplash opening shows Tokyo-bound flight 7500 experiencing major turbulence, after which we cut back to several hours earlier, when passengers and crew are settling in for what they hope to be a routine overnight trip. The manifest includes two flight attendants (Leslie Bibb, Jamie Chung) with relationship issues galore; a young groom (Jerry Ferrara from Entourage) and his kvetching bride (Nicky Whelan) headed out on their honeymoon; a married pair (Ryan Kwanten, Amy Smart) on the verge of separating; and a traveling businessman (Rick Kelly) with a mysterious wooden box and a tendency to vomit blood all over the seat in front of him.

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The screenplay by Craig Rosenberg (The Uninvited) sketches these people out in broad if efficient strokes, creating enough minimum tension to set things up for what comes next. The problem is that nothing really memorable happens after, even if an early sequence — where the cabin depressurizes and everyone clumsily tries to use their oxygen masks — is well-choreographed by Shimizu, and will definitely make you think twice about ignoring that safety video next time.

Otherwise, the filmmakers insert a handful of easy scares that hardly get the job done, as 7500 shifts from being a potential nail-biter to becoming a veritable head-scratcher, raising more questions than it can possibly answer, especially after what many will see as a total cop-out of a finale.

Performances are decent across the board, while cinematographer David Tattersall (The Green Mile) and production designer Jaymes Hinkle (Shark Night 3D) build a tight tech package that helps to elevate the material. A clip from the classic Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” which one character watches on an in-flight video, makes one long for the time when such movies could show you something really scary.

Production companies: CBS Films, Vertigo Entertainment, Ozla Pictures
Cast: Leslie Bibb, Jamie Chung, Jerry Ferrara, Ryan Kwanten, Johnathon Schaech, Amy Smart, Nicky Whelan, Rick Kelly
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Screenwriter: Craig Rosenberg
Producers: Takashige Ichise, Roy Lee
Executive producers: Tracy McGrath, John Middleton
Cinematographer: David Tattersall
Production designer: Jaymes Hinkle
Costume designer: Magali Guidasci
Editor: Sean Valla
Composer: Tyler Bates
Casting directors: Kelly Martin Wagner, Dominika Posseren

Rated PG-13, 80 minutes