In “Blood Red Sky,” Nadja (Peri Baumeister) boards a plane with her son, Elias, en route to the U.S. for much-needed medical treatment. Midway through their transatlantic flight, a group of hijackers murders the pilot and air marshals, leaving the passengers defenseless — so they think.

The allure of “Blood Red Sky” isn't that Nadja’s a vampire — no secret from the start — it's that this expertly raises the bar of suspense in an intentional and measured way.

Baumeister (“The Saboteurs”) is remarkable as Nadja. Her physical and emotional transformation is astounding. (Kudos to her skills, and the prosthetics and special effects team.) She elicits the entire range of emotion — defeat, despair, ferocity, carnal rage — all through Nosferatu-like prosthetics and sometimes, a crappy wig.

In a flashback of her early vampire days, she shakily fails to prep a bottle for her baby. After slurping bloody raw steak juice, animal instinct activated, she snarls and bares her teeth at her baby, Elias. Her return is slow and telling of her devastation at her loss of control.

On the plane, though, Nadja’s forced to let free what she fears most, and it’s wildly captivating watching her unleash, rein it in, and unleash again — all and only when necessary for her son’s survival. Hers is a new and next-level maternal heroine.

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Nadja (Peri Baumeister) is forced to unleash her inner beast when terrorists hijack a transatlantic flight. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
Nadja (Peri Baumeister) is forced to unleash her inner beast when terrorists hijack a transatlantic flight. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

In his feature-film debut, Carl Anton Koch rocks it as Nadja’s steely and unyielding son. His ferocity and unrelenting aim is inspiring to say the least.

Alexander Scheer (“Gundermann”) plays loose-cannon hijacker Eightball, who has his own version of bloodlust. His spider-like frame and metallic eyes are an effective fit for this antagonist.

Stefan Holtz and Peter Thorwarth’s screenplay subtly questions our idea of a monster, and what they’ve dreamed up is an intriguing version of this stock version of the undead. Thirsty, yes, but they’re about more than the bloodlust.

The actors are fully committed, and their physical portrayals are more staggering and impressive than frightening, which is a testament to this film’s priorities.

It’s the reductive thrillers that give the genre a bad name. “Blood Red Sky” elevates it, weaving very human instincts — frailty and courage, love and evil, sacrifice and survival of the fittest — against the backdrop of suspense — putting this on par with “The Invitation,” “Let The Right One In” and “Funny Games.”

This one’s a keeper.

“Blood Red Sky”

Starring: Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch, Alexander Scheer

Writers: Stefan Holtz, Peter Thorwarth

Director: Peter Thorwarth

Time: 2:03

Rating: TV-MA for violence, some profanity

Available: Netflix

Melinda Lavine is a features reporter for the News Tribune. Write to her at mlavine@duluthnews.com.
Melinda Lavine is a features reporter for the News Tribune. Write to her at mlavine@duluthnews.com.