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BIFFF 2024

Review: Monster on a Plane

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- The humorous horror flick by Ezra Tsegaye, about an airliner you certainly won’t want to board, makes for some bloody good entertainment

Review: Monster on a Plane
Fred Aaron Blake and Eva Habermann in Monster on a Plane

The creature feature Monster on a Plane, written and directed by German filmmaker and storyboard artist Ezra Tsegaye, world-premiered on 20 April at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF), before making its way to the Horrorant International Film Festival in Athens. The Brussels-based gathering is known for its eclectic selection of fantasy, sci-fi and horror films, as well as for its very vocal audience, often providing rowdy live commentary during screenings.

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And judging by said commentary, this particular picture was right up the public’s alley. It is indeed deliciously fun to watch: on his way from Mermaid Lagoon Island to Hamburg, Professor Singh (Dieter Landuris) smuggles a little critter onto a plane full of hilariously caricatured, mostly German passengers, in the name of science. However, the fluffball does not seem all that keen on helping find a cure for cancer; instead, all hell breaks loose when it starts snacking its way through the passenger manifest…

The ensemble cast play well off each other, and what makes the film particularly entertaining is the kind of self-deprecating humour with which the characters are imbued – a quality rarely found in German movies. All of the Germans on board have a thick accent, making them sound atrocious and amusing in equal measure.

Eva Habermann plays the lovely flight attendant Natalie, one of the few people one prays will still be alive upon landing. Robin Czerny is easily the most annoying passenger on the plane – turn off that phone already! – but he goes from zero to hero when people’s lives depend on it. Philippe Brenninkmeyer is the smooth but somewhat arrogant pilot of Flight 123 – and luckily enough, he did not forget to pack the plane’s manual. Isabel Dornheim plays a seductive, superficial student bully and Fred Aaron Blake a serial killer who almost steals the monster’s limelight.

Most of the passengers cause you to sympathise with the monster – a recipe that works well for this film. It is not a deep movie that will prompt you to search for videos of people offering their theories on the flick for nights on end, but not every film needs to be, after all. It offers nods to beloved 1980s classics like Gremlins and even Indiana Jones, but also to more recent pictures like Snakes on a Plane. The colour grading, the candy-like, neon lights and particularly the monster’s vision give it the look of a graphic novel. The effects are low-budget but creative, especially considering that most of them were achieved with handmade elements and miniatures. The monster initially looks like a murderous version of a 1980s Snugglebum toy, but grows bigger as it farts out mind-altering gases and racks up the kills. All in all, it’s an enjoyable ride.

Monster on a Plane was produced by Riot City Entertainment, a subsidiary of Cornelsen Films (Germany).

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