“Whatever happened to Flight 7500?”
It isn’t quite a mystery on the scale of, say, the disappearance of MH370, but horror fans may nevertheless have been wondering what happened to 7500, the CBS Films-produced horror film scripted by Craig Rosenberg (Half Light, The Uninvited, The Quiet Ones) and directed by Takashi Shimizu, best known as the director of Ju-On: The Grudge (2002), its 2003 sequel, its American remake (The Grudge, 2004) and its 2006 sequel.
Although the release was originally scheduled for 31 August 2012, by October 2013 it still hadn’t been released, and enquiries to CBS Films resulted in a terse statement: “We’ll be happy to give you news when there’s actually news to report.” Although the film’s official Facebook page and Twitter account haven’t been updated since early 2012, IMDb is now showing a US and UK release date of 3 October, prompting us to track down a German DVD (it was released there in September) to see if the two year wait was worth it.
The film opens as Vista Pacific flight 7500 departs Los Angeles for Tokyo, and after a perfunctory introduction sketching the characters and relationships of a select few of the passengers (including Amy Smart, True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten and Jerry Ferrara, aka Entourage‘s Turtle) and crew (Leslie Bibb, Jamie Chung and Jonathan Schaech), a businessman (Rick Kelly) has a violent seizure and dies. “We’re trapped with a dead body for the next six hours?” someone complains, as the corpse is stowed – for no adequately explained reason (apparently there is no extra space anywhere on this gigantic Boeing 747) – in the First Class cabin, forcing premium passengers to relocate to Coach. Meanwhile, the Captain decides that the remainder of the flight will proceed with the cabin lights dimmed – a worrying development for the viewer, given the Stygian gloom in which the film has thus far unfolded.
As one might expect from a horror film, the dead man is just the beginning of Flight 7500’s troubles: in the midst of some pretty heavy turbulence, the aircraft suffers a sudden loss of cabin pressure, causing things to go flying about the cabin, oxygen masks to drop, and a young woman to collapse. Meanwhile, sly passenger Jake (Alex Frost) sneaks into First Class to steal the dead guy’s watch – and gets more than he bargained for as… well, it isn’t entirely clear what happens to him, except that the dead guy’s blanket moves, Jakes screams – and is never seen or heard from again. Just as it seems a nightmare at 20,000 feet is about to ensue, we are treated to a clip from the classic 1963 Twilight Zoneepisode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” – which only serves to make us wish we were watching that instead.Or, you know,anything other than 7500.
With barely thirty minutes of running time remaining, it would be inappropriate to relate further plot details, but the problem is actually that there is little to relate. Suffice to say that the passengers and crew attempt to solve the mystery of the missing bodies, while an equally compelling mystery – why the movie has been delayed for two years – begins to solve itself. The solution is simple, and far more pedestrian than, say, corporate sensitivity over the real-life plight of Flight MH370.
7500 is bad. Really bad.
One could probably forgive the crummy CG, the single cabin setting, the perfunctory characterisation, the “say every thought out loud” dialogue, and the myriad other crimes against narrative, if only Rosenberg and Shimizu could mount one single solitary scare. Unfortunately, with the exception of a pair of gnarled hands grabbing the knees of a passenger in one of the restrooms, some ghostly fog creeping through the cabin, and – gulp – old-style TV static on the cabin’s (presumably digital) in-flight movie screen, there is precious little here to trouble anyone but the most extreme aviophobe.
There is, however, a twist – possible spoiler ahead – one that should come as no surprise to anyone who remembers that 7500 is the work of a writer who worked on Lost and the director of The Grudge. It’s too little, too late to save the film, but since it comes at the 70 minute mark (the film runs 73 minutes including credits), at least we’re saved from watching any more of a film that was aptly released in Germany by Concorde Home Entertainment.
Like the Concorde, it should have been grounded forever.
David Hughes (@DavidHughesTwit)
See the trailer at http://www.7500movie.com/