Airborne is a direct to DVD horror/thriller movie from director Dominic Burns and staring Mark Hamill (yes THAT Mark Hamill) as a senior air traffic controller who on his last shift before retirement finds himself dealing with an unexplained series of disturbances and mysteries on board the final flight under his charge. Strange disappearances and supernatural undercurrents abound as the only flight to take off during harsh weather conditions tries to make it’s way from London to New York.
Tensions are already fairly high as the thoroughly British cast of semi-recognisable wait to board their plane with a mixture of army officers, cockney gangsters, a loved up couple, a still drunk/hungover guy, chipper American, and a few others make up the sparse passenger list. The film tries to spread intrigue and drop red herrings all over the place as to what the film might be about: is it a terrorist plot? A heist? A supernatural thriller? As passengers and members of the crew start to disappear and the remaining members of the cast are forced to start acting a little too ‘tense’, one thing is clear – Mark Hamill’s Malcolm is not going to have the quiet, stress free retirement send off he’d hoped for.
Airborne is trying, often a little too hard, to generate tension and oddness – think Twilight Zone in a confined space – and unfortunately it doesn’t really succeed to any great length, in fact given the minimal cast the relatively small aeroplane actually seem quite expansive. Several of the passengers and staff act ‘odd’ in order to make you wonder at their motives or involvement in what is actually going on and while this does create some intrigue it’s also unevenly handled with half the characters seeming completely irrational. Alan Ford, Bill Murray, and Julian Glover each have their own moments to shine in an otherwise so-so script. Mark Hamill is unfortunately tied almost exclusively to a single room and doesn’t get much of a chance to do anything other than talk into a headset and voice the films narration.
When the reveal comes and we finally understand what is going on, it’s a little bit of a let down, or at least it feels a little tacky. But the very final shot is pure horror B-movie and Airborne isn’t completely devoid of merit. A little slow, a little muddled, but not altogether the worst movie ever made. Fans of schlock thrillers and B-movie style films will probably not be disappointed but really it should have gone further, been darker, or gone all out to try and scare, unfortunately instead the result is a bit tepid and forgettable.
Airborne is available on DVD July 30.