27th Feb2018

‘Flight From Hell’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ed Westwick, Zhu Zhu, Leon Lee, Cary Alexander, Johann Helf, Linlin Jiang, Didi Qian, Emily Sansiri, Alexander Winters | Written and Directed by Vincent Zhou


So the official synopsis for Flight From Hell, aka Last Flight, reads like this: “As an old Boeing 747 takes off for its last red-eye flight from a small Pacific island, unusual events occur intermittently. While all the passengers are panic, the captain and the chief flight attendant try to lead the investigation.”

Sound familiar? It should. For that’s essentially the core plot of the Brandon Routh starring Lost in the Pacific – a film made by Vincent Zhou, the same writer/director as this. Like his other plane-set film, Flight From Hell is another English/Mandarin co-production that features an international cast, lead this time by Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl) and Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas) as the planes pilot and heroic flight attendant respectively. Though to be fair to Zhou, Lost in the Pacific did come after this film, even though their releases have been switched outside of the filmmakers native homeland.

Speaking of which, Flight From Hell surprisingly made a ton of money in China, passing a whopping $16m at the box office in the first few days of its debut; it’s no wonder Zhou was able to make the Brandon Routh-starring sequel! For that’s what both films are, interconnected plane-set horrors that work in much the same way as the old Airport disaster movies of the ’70s – essentially  retreads of the last film with slightly different stories but thematically very similar: this film being the last flight of one airline, and the other the first flight of a new, if similarly-named, airline.

The similarities don’t stop there.

Both films feature planes carrying a variety of passengers. Passengers that are the usual tropes of the disaster movie: a rich couple, a child travelling with her Grandma, a group of friends with their own issues and one shady character whose behaviour is suspect from the get-go. Both films feature a supernatural element and references to an mysterious island – whereas the plane landed on an island filled with demonic beasts in Lost in the Pacific, here the aforementioned shady passenger brings a dead creature on-board from the island, smuggled in another passengers bag. The result is the same. Supernatural creature stalks and kills people on board the flight as the passengers fight and bicker over what to do an how to survive. Though these particular passengers are also a lot more ruthless than those in Zhou’s follow-up – often sacrificing other passengers to save themselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed Lost in the Pacific thanks to its ridiculous, over the top, and completely bizarre nature and Flight From Hell only ups the ante! Feeling very much like a dry-run for the sequel, Flight From Hell is without a doubt the same kind of cheesy, monster-filled fun; only this time with more of an exploitation feel rather than the action/adventure tinged horror of the sequel – there’s more gore; more gratuitous, lingering shots of the female passengers and Zhou even manages to throw in a prolonged “mile high club” scene early on. And then there’s the very idea of one of the passengers possibly being psychic…

Whilst not as ultimately as successful as its sequel thanks to some unlikeable characters and some pacing issues mid-film, Flight From Hell still maintains the same “Syfy channel” mix of fun and craziness that made Zhou’s other film, along with films like Snakes on a Plane and Turbulence, so enjoyable to watch – plus, come the films conclusion, this film actually goes a long way to explaining the backstory of Lost in the Pacific which is a huge plus!

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