Still better than a Malaysian Airlines flight: “7500”

October 5, 2014


Think about air travel a moment. You’re herded like mentally-retarded cattle, practically get anal-probed by paroled felons in the name of “security,” all for the honor of waiting three hours for your hopelessly-delayed flight. When you do actually board the plane, you’ve got approximately the same personal space as a first-grader’s school desk, and as a fun feature, the seats recline so drastically that if the person in front of you wants to lean back, you end up with their head in your lap (and not in the good way—never in the good way). And this is how you spend several interminable hours—eating meals that seem to have polymer as a principle ingredient, watching edited movies on a tiny screen, and trying to ignore the dumbass sitting next to you who decided that a T-shirt with a borderline offensive saying and flip-flops are appropriate plane attire. And that’s provided that the hyper-sophisticated, eggshell-fragile machine you’re sitting in doesn’t plummet from the sky like a flaming cigar tube or simply disappear from all existence. And yet someone decided that this experience had to be made more harrowing, and so they made the haunted-jetliner film 7500. Never heard of it? That’s because it’s been sitting on a shelf for two years. Yeah, that’s a hopeful sign. Are you buckled in? Then let’s take off…uh, this review (well, shit, that didn’t work).

Okay, spoiler alert! I’m going to spoil this movie, because 1) it’s really not worth your time, and 2) given its release history—i.e. for the past two years it’s been gathering dust, spare the few releases in Southeast Asia—you’ll likely never see it anyway. We cool? Cool.

7500 refers to Flight 7500 non-stop from Los Angeles to Tokyo, and like the disaster films of the ‘70s, it asks us to follow a group of motley folks thrown together in remarkable circumstances. And like those movies it asks us to care about their personal problems in the face of a possible catastrophic tragedy. And, in this case, a healthy dose of the supernatural. But, uh, yeah, let’s worry about the cute couple whose marriage is on the rocks.

The marginal main characters of the film are two flight attendants (that’s right: two flight attendants for an entire 747—good luck getting a refill on your half-once cup of Coke on that flight) played by Jamie Chung and Leslie Bibb. This already pushes this movie way past credibility and the ghosts haven’t even shown up yet. Bibb and Chung are two smoking hot wantitas, and we all know that flight attendants on American carriers are all middle-aged battle-axes. Sure, the beautiful stewardess is a common male fantasy, but the reality is gorgeous stewardesses are one of those things like dinosaurs, the Holy Grail, or American military supremacy—they may have existed once in the distant past, but you’re gonna be hard-pressed to find evidence of it today.

The most credibility-straining aspect of this movie.

The mostunrealistic thing in this movie.

The passengers consist of the aforementioned couple (Amy Smart and Ryan Kwanten, who deserve better), a newlywed couple that annoy everybody by showing their wedding photos (Jerry Ferrera and Nicky Whelan), a goth chick (Scout Taylor-Compton), a guarded cute chick (Christian Serratos), and an obnoxious thief (Alex Frost), who thinks the best way to hit on Jamie Chung is to hurl racial taunts at her. There are some other folks, too, but they don’t amount to much.

"C'mon baby, we can go out for some roast dog, or whetever you people eat."

“C’mon baby, we can go out for some roast dog, or
whatever you people eat.”

Also on the plane is an ominous businessman, Lance (Rick Kelly), who basically just sits there being ominous. Once airborne, though, he has a massive and bloody seizure and dies. Now, rather than turn around and land at LA (which, is realistically, what they would do that early in the flight), the cabin is relocated to a, uh, empty cabin (wait, this jumbo jet has, like, 20 people onboard? Shit, that airline is going bankrupt). And that’s when the weirdness starts.

First, the plane hits some major turbulence and throws everyone around.  Not weird, but alarming.  Then people start experiencing freaky stuff. There’s lots of dry-ice fog in the cabin with Lance’s corpse, and when the thief goes to steal the dude’s watch (and inexplicably film himself doing it, because  that’s what the kids do today when they’re not taking naked selfies, if CNN is to be believed), he sees something horrifying and disappears. Leslie Bibb thinks she sees an F-16 fighter jet off the wing, but then it too vanishes.

Behold the terror of any airline bathroom.

Behold the terror of any airliner’s bathroom.

Soon enough, our intrepid (?) characters realize that things are seriously wrong with this flight and rifle through Lance’s carry-ons where they find a lot of supernatural tchotchkes. As they try to get to the bottom of the mysteries around them, their numbers dwindle as folks continue to vanish into thin-re-circulated air.

After an interminable run time of these chump-change chills, the remaining characters finally discover the horrifying truth: they’re all dead. (Sigh), yeah that old trope. Seems when the plane hit that bad turbulence something went wrong with the oxygen system and they all suffocated. The F-16 Leslie saw was doing a flyby to look for possible survivors, but as the inexplicable real-time news feed on the plane’s TV announces, “There are no signs of life.”

"Oh my god! They're showing 'Night at the Museum!'"

“Oh my god! They’re showing ‘Night at the Museum!'”

7500 isn’t the first movie to try to wrangle supernatural scares out of air travel, and like this movie, those others all pretty much failed (with the exception of that Twilight Zone episode where William Shatner sees a fuzzy gremlin on the wing). The problem is that airline flights are too crowded and cramped to really build an atmosphere of terror. There’s a reason we have haunted house movies and not haunted fishing shacks or DMV waiting rooms.

Director Takashi Shimizu is an old hand at J-horror in both his native Japan and the US (he made the lousy sequel to the American remake of The Ring), but here he brings the same tired bag of tricks that pretty exhausted the J-horror genre. There aren’t any creepy little girls, but we get the same non-specific, totally random shocks that make no sense in the context of the movie? Why are spectral hands popping out of hatches and doors, trying to snatch people? Dunno. Why is Lance’s corpse so animated? Beats me, but has nothing to do with ghosts gradually learning their actually dead.

Anyway, that’s 7500. There’s nothing in it scarier than you’d find in a Skymall catalog.

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