.post-body img { max-width: 200px; max-height:auto; }

Monday, June 6, 2022

Movie Review: "Row 19" (2022)

"...in Russia, Spooky Plane Find You!"

-by Mike Imboden

Right outta’ the chute I need to say that we here at Uphill Both Ways were of two minds when it came to this. On one hand, it’s a Russian production and, well, the last thing we want to be doing here is supporting that country these days.  Since we’re Gen Xers here we grew up with the USSR as our “boogeyman”, so it’s not a huge leap for us to wash our hands of anything to do with Russia.  On the other hand, however, we’ve got no real way of knowing if the people involved with Row 19 support their country’s current actions, so would it be fair of us to hold them accountable and disregard their film?  Ultimately we agreed that ignoring the film would be something that they’d do, and we’re supposed to be better than them, right?  Art is art whether you agree with it or not, so after drawing the short straw I got a screener from Well Go USA and sat down to see what we had sold our souls for (I’m kidding - we didn’t sell or souls - but we DO have to say “do svidaniya tovarishch” whenever we sign off on our podcast now).

So, Row 19.

Twenty years ago, seven year-old Katerina (Svetlana Ivanova) was the sole survivor of a plane crash.  Now, with a seven year-old daughter, (Diana, played by Marta Kessler), of her own in tow, she’s finally getting back on a plane to visit her father.  What follows is a mutt of a movie combining elements of everything from an entry in the Airport series of movies, some supernatural horror, and at least one episode of The Twilight Zone which, admittedly, sounds like it might be kind of fun.  Truth be told, it sort of IS fun - if your idea of fun is trying to make sense of a Mad Lib answered by a three year old.

Despite a raging storm outside and a flight manifest that fills the cabin with less passengers than most people have fingers, the plane takes off and it’s not long before creepy stuff starts happening and Katerina starts seeing things that cause her to flashback to her own ill-fated flight from 20 years earlier that include her childhood home, visions of her own mother, and a “witch” who is accompanied by sounds that are vaguely like Gregorian chants which is a good form of shorthand to let us know that something supernatural is afoot. When the short-list of passengers starts to get shorter, everyone tries to deal with things in their own way.  Thankfully they are all cookie-cutter characters so we know as soon as we meet each of them what their fate is and, predictably, what they will do along the way.

This all sounds fine, however either James Raab’s script or director Alexander Babaev (or even a combination of the two), tries to get cute and we start getting poorly-aimed curve balls thrown at us. Plot points that don’t really point anywhere, decisions made by characters that make no sense, and more flashbacks which are most likely intended to make us question if what we’re seeing is real or in Katerina’s head, but come across as oddly placed sidebars.

I watched this with the English dub on instead of the Russian language track so I can’t really comment on how well a job the actors did beyond saying their facial expressions and body language seemed to convey what was being said by the dub. The dub itself, however, was a bit clunky with the voice actors sounding a bit bored with their roles or - at the very least - coming across as soulless automatons. The CGI wasn’t much better, so I’ll just say that there is CGI used within the film and let you decide its quality. 

All in all, Row 19 isn’t a horrible movie and it DOES have some flashes of above average-ness here and there, but there’s just not enough consistency in the storytelling or directing to let it all rise above a predictable and fairly derivative film about a flight that probably should have been grounded in the first place.

ROW 19
Directed by: Alexander Babaev
Written by: James Rabb
Genre: Horror
Distributed by: Well Go USA Entertainment
Starring: Svetlana Ivanova, Marta Kessler, Wolfgang Cerny, Ekaterina Vilkova, Anatoly Kot
Running time: 78 minutes
Rated: NR
Release date: May 31, 2022

No comments:

Post a Comment

People Seem To Really Like This Stuff