Sometimes, as a horror fan, you just need a palate cleanser. Gore, brutality, and sheer terror are fun, but a laugh is needed every once in a while, if only to fend off desensitization. For those who don’t like to stray too far from the horror genre, ostentatious natural disaster and survival movies are a natural go-to. Writer/director Alex Tavakoli’s debut film Skybound is about as garish and laugh-inducing a survival film as B-movies come.
The film centers around Lisa, played by Scarlett Byrne, who decides it’s completely appropriate to fly across the country to a man’s vacation house for their first date. She and her date Matt (Rick Cosnett) take off from New York to California in a private plane along with a few of their friends. Not long after takeoff, they find a mysterious man in the electrical part of the plane who warns that they must not land no matter what may happen. Of course, after Matt’s brother, Kyle (Gavin Stenhouse), gets badly injured, the group wants to touch back down. However, they find that landing is an impossibility, as the entire surface of the continental US is radioactive from 11 nuclear bomb attacks that occurred after takeoff. Short on fuel, the group must figure out how to make it to safety.
Just from the opening credits, we know that this movie is going to be absurd. The gigantic, aggressively bold text used for said credits, which are placed within fake clouds, sets the tone for an over-the-top, CGI-laden film. Sure, they’re a bit tacky, but the opening credits do offer the benefit of assuring viewers that nothing within the next hour and twenty-two minutes should be taken seriously. This is key to enjoying this film, because if ever for a moment it is mistaken for humorless, Skybound will be nearly unwatchable.
There are so many ridiculous facets of this film. From the needless slow-motion shooting of a main character (who goes on to be completely fine, as if nothing has happened) to the oversized painting Lisa finds of her own face created by her old flame, Kyle, who embarrassedly claims he didn’t want her to see it (why leave it on the plane then?) By far, the most ridiculous aspect has to be the dialogue. Cliched and unnatural, the dialogue sounds as if written by a robot trying to impersonate human interaction, with only soap operas to guide it.
One such example can be heard towards the beginning of the film, when Matt asks Lisa to come sit in the copilot’s seat as he pilots the plane. He lets her steer for a moment, and she looks out over New York City in awe. As she takes in the sight of the city, with all its many lights and tall buildings, Lisa says, “Thank you so much! Honestly, I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as this.” Matt, looking at her romantically, replies, “Me neither,” and leans in to kiss her. It’s predictable, melodramatic, and laughably bad.
To the film’s credit, writer/director Tavakoli goes to great lengths to ensure scientific accuracy. The span of radioactivity on the ground’s surface is carefully explained as are things like the traffic collision avoidance system on the airplane. It’s meticulously explained how the airplane’s door can be opened mid-flight in order to throw things out, such as seats and televisions, when they are trying to decrease the aircraft’s weight to preserve fuel. This is interesting because much of the film is outlandish. However, just when viewers are prepared to say it’s too far out of the realm of possibility to open the door while the plane is in motion, Tavakoli, a civil engineer, disproves our theories with facts we would not have otherwise known or considered. This lends itself to a refreshing feeling of realism in an otherwise ridiculous film, making viewers more willing to give the rest of the running time a chance.
Skybound is not a good movie, to be sure, but it is entertaining and fun. Had this film come out in the 80s, it would no doubt be given the same pass as other cheesy horror films revered for nostalgic reasons rather than technical soundness (think Basket Case or Killer Klowns from Outer Space). So-bad-they’re-good B-movies may not be at the height of popularity today, but there are still people out there who love a corny survival-horror flick that doesn’t take itself too seriously. When a break from the intensity of gore films or darkness of possession films is needed, Skybound is a great choice for a laugh.
Skybound is available on VOD.