Airborne (2012)

Directed By: Dominic Burns
Written By: Paul Chronnell
Starring: Mark Hamill
  Craig Conway
  Simon Phillips
  Alan Ford

You know you’re watching a Black and Blue Films production when:

1.) Billy Murray from the Injury Lawyers 4U advert turns up as a feature role or as a very important cameo.
2.) Alan Ford shows up and says ‘cunt’ a lot.
3.) The film features a hugely superfluous cameo from an aging film star (Robert Englund, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mark Hamill etc…).
4.) Simon Philips is in it.

The other staples normally involve roles for the likes of Craig Conway, Danny Dyer, Sean Pertwee and any number of ex-soap stars (mostly from Hollyoaks) who just seem thankful someone still thinks they’re relevant.

The one true thing all Black and Blue Films have in common is this: they’re all a bit shit.

With the exception of the enjoyable Devil’s Playground, Black and Blue Films’ horror output has been a cheap, schlocky, embarrassing combination of cockney-gangsters and horror cliches.

Strippers vs Werewolves perhaps marked their lowest point – a film so awful this reviewer couldn’t even stomach reviewing it. Producer Jonathan Sothcott even apologized for Dead Cert at Frightfest last year, which certainly takes some nuts.

But does Airborne join the other crappy horror films from Black and Blue Films or does it – in fact – show the beginning of the new era for Black and Blue?

Airborne is the story of Atlantic Flight 686, which takes off during a horrendous storm and heads towards New York. Unfortunately for the few passengers taking this journey there might be someone – or something – onboard the plane that wants to kill them.

As passengers start disappearing and ground control loses contact with the plane, the authorities must decide whether to shoot it down over the ocean or risk letting it land …

In his British-film debut, Mark Hamill does his best impression of a constipated toad throughout, in full on ‘too old for this shit’ mode as he ambles about the airport control room on his last day before retirement, looking at monitors with increasing panic. He does a great job in a role that lovingly (if accidentally) pastiches the disaster movies of the 60’s and 70’s. Hamill is hugely watchable from start to finish.

If you want to experience the worst ever airline in the history of airlines then this is the film for you! Breaking every regulation and protocol available to them, Atlantic Airlines let a dozen red flagged nutters and an unregulated flight steward onboard, along with some £100,000,000 vase that might just be emitting pure madness.

The awful-airline issue isn’t the only problem with Airborne as there are some serious leaps in logic, some thin characterisations and an unnecessarily clichéd military intervention that seems seriously over-the-top.

Despite all this – and despite my brutal regard for Black and Blue Films previous horror output – Airborne is a compelling little horror that keeps you guessing right up until the end. Although not very scary it does boast frequent viciousness and enough claret to keep the gore-hounds watching; it features knives, guns, fists and some good old British headbutting. Brutal fun.

Dominic Burns proves himself to be a director to watch, providing a fast-paced and thrilling feel to the piece. Airborne flies along (no pun intended) and it’s a quick-sharp horror running at less than 90 minutes. Writer Paul Chronnell does a decent job with the script but his dialogue lacks the originality something so claustrophobic needed – the characters sometimes come across as a little clichéd.

Despite the underwhelming dialogue, Alan Ford, Julian Glover and Craig Conway are excellent throughout, really pulling the film together. Simon Phillips adds another likeable loser to his Black and Blue Films canon, giving us the needed everyman character that is instantly relatable.

If Black and Blue Films continue to make horrors like Airborne then it marks a decent and needed jolt in the right direction, kicking away schlock gangster-horror nonsense and replacing it with genuinely decent horror filmmaking. Their straight urban / gangster films are normally solid entertainment, so let’s hope their horror arm goes in the same direction.

I recommend Airborne for fans of taut, low-budget British horrors and those wanting to see Mark Hamill make his British-film debut in a small but enjoyable role. Airborne is brutal, violent, thoroughly enjoyable and packed with some great twists and turns.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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