Wes Craven grew up in a family where watching movies was considered a sin. It’s one of the many things I wanted to ask him about when we chatted on August 8, 2005. I was also curious about the subtle but unmistakable feminist bent of his latest film, RED EYE, not to mention why co-star Brian Cox looked distinctly unlike himself, and all those battles with the ratings systems over the years. Craven was up to it all, answering with candor, charm, and a hefty helping of smarts.
A warning, there is a small spoiler towards the end of the interview. I left it in because of the very salient point that Craven was making about the current state of angst in a post-9/11 world. Proceed with caution.
Most horror films are dedicated to the proposition that females are prey and little else. Wes Craven’s RED EYE does indulge in one or two of such clichés as well as one or two others, including having its leading lady, Rachael McAdams, strip down to her bra in the first fifteen minutes of the film. Yet, it remains that rare work that celebrates female empowerment without resorting to Xena-like excesses. In other words, while indulging in flights of thriller fantasy, it keeps the empowerment strictly based in the real world, making it all the more effective, and all the more empowering.
But enough about subtext.
Craven has produced a work that starts slowly and deliberately, building the creepiness as the story raises the stakes for Lisa, a perky and efficient people-pleaser making her way home after a family funeral. There might be another one in the offing as the charming stranger (Cillian Murphy) on the red-eye flight from Dallas to Miami with whom she’s thrown together seemingly by chance turns out to have an agenda other than nooky on his mind. Lisa works as the upscale resort hotel shortly to be visited by the director of Homeland Security (Jack Scalia), and there are people, never identified, who would like to take him out. Lisa has the pull to move him to a convenient room for the operation to succeed. She also has a father (Brian Cox) to whom she is greatly attached and who, unbeknownst to him, has an assassin with a big knife sitting outside his house waiting for the word on whether or not Lisa is willing to play ball with the bad guys.
Click here to read the review of RED EYE.