Directed by Takashi Shimizu
When the mystery of still missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 became a media sensation earlier this year, I joked on Twitter that you’d think the producers of the much-delayed 7500 would finally rush it out into theaters to capitalize on the premise of an ill-fated Asian airliner. Someone must have agreed because the film has finally been released in several Asia countries. If anyone is looking for a cheap Thai import DVD, I have a copy that I have absolutely no use for anymore.
Takashi Shimizu’s 7500 has been delayed for over two years now. Exactly why CBS Films has sat on it for so long is anyone’s guess. Having now seen the film, I think I can make a pretty safe guess. Anyone anticipating The Grudge on a plane had better be prepared to be majorly disappointed. Expect to be majorly disappointed regardless of what you went in expecting.
For a motion picture initially intended for wide release, the special effects are about on par with those found in your average Asylum production. The guy who directed the original Japanese version of The Grudge fails to pull off even a single effective scare. A run time this scant typically indicates major chunks of the film were edited out; I cannot fathom any missing moments that could have made this terminally bland production more compelling. Horror without scares, a mystery that isn’t mysterious, and copious amounts of mundane melodrama make 7500 feel much longer than its 75-minute running time.
Craig Rosenberg (The Quiet Ones) weaves a tale that would be better suited to the length of a “Twilight Zone” episode… a “Twilight Zone” episode from the more recent incarnations of the series and not a particularly good one, either. Rosenberg seemed to have “Twilight Zone” on his mind so much there’s even a scene where the in-flight entertainment is the classic episode with William Shatner contending with a monster on the wing of the plane.
The completely derivative reveal at the end left me feeling cheated, not just because of how predictably lame this twist was but because it made me realize how pointless the majority of the flat scare attempts involving apparitions, pale dead hands reaching out from white smoke, and creepy Asian dolls that look like the offspring of Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga were. The only way the twist could have been any lamer would have been to reveal the whole thing having been a dream.
Leslie Bibb and Jamie Chung are stewardesses. Bibb is having a fling with pilot Johnathon Schaech. Chung has been engaged for 18 months to some guy and stares at her ring a lot, contemplating whether he really is the love of her life. Amy Smart is half of a couple experiencing second thoughts about calling it quits following a family tragedy. Newlywed Jerry Ferrara takes an interest in tattooed Goth chick/convenient Japanese mythology expert/philosopher of life and death Scout-Taylor Compton, much to chagrin of his deeply neurotic and annoying wife.
A few other characters abound, of them the most important being the man that dies an unexplained blood-spewing death mid-flight. Strange occurrences, flat jump scares, and disappointingly creep-less stabs at J-horror quickly follow his demise. Some truly nasty turbulence is really the most harrowing thing they’ll experience.
These stock characters meander about the plane, often in search of any reason to be doing so, while waxing philosophical about life and openly stating their every inner thought. Flight 7500 proves to be a plane full of ninnies, and after a while blankets moves on their own or ghostly hands pop out of digital fog to give them more of a reason to scream than you.
When you make a movie that is 90% setup and 10% payoff, you had better make sure to knock it out of the park with the payoff and not fall back on a twist that’s been done to death in countless other movies and television shows both better and worse. But being unoriginal in the end is one thing; being uninteresting from start to finish is worse.
My attention span became so strained during 7500 that I began to think back to The Horror at 37,000 Feet, a notoriously bad 1970s TV movie that’s so hilariously awful it has become something of a camp classic in the ensuing years. A druid entity terrorized a 747 crossing the Atlantic, and the only person who could stop it was a wildly overacting William Shatner. This movie desperately needed some of that Shatner magic.