Director: Mikael Marcimain
Cast: Alexander Dreymon, Allison Williams, Keith David
Runtime: 1 hr 27 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 12 November 2020
Synopsis: From the creators of 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Shallows, HORIZON LINE is a thrilling survival story about an estranged couple, Sara (Allison Williams) and Jackson (Alexander Dreymon) who discover new altitudes of fear aboard a single-engine Cessna plane. It was supposed to be a routine and casual 99-minute flight to their friend’s tropical island wedding. But within minutes after takeoff, their pilot suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving Sara and Jackson with no idea of where they are, no communication, and no clue on how to land the plane. With nothing but miles of ocean and sky in every direction, and a terrifying storm that’s about to envelop them, Sara and Jackson have only one shot – and there’s no going back.
It must have been a while for most but if you’re looking for a year-end holiday escape in the form of an aviation movie, you might wish to look somewhere else. Horizon Line does feature a very idyllic postcard-perfect destination and a romantic Cessna plane ride for two, but the plot is far from relaxing.
Sara (Allison Williams) and Jackson (Alexander Dreymon) meet in Mauritius and are perfect for each other. Both are adventurous and spontaneous. Both have a lofty dream that they are pursuing. Except Jackson’s is on the islands, while Sara wishes to return to her brand consultant job back home in the States. Bad at goodbyes, Sara slips off at their last meeting, and tries to forget about this fling - however destined it was meant to be.
Turns out, destiny thinks long term. A year later, she returns to the islands for a friend’s wedding, and awkwardly rekindles a connection with Jackson when trying to make amends. But life has a way of helping out. During a schedule screw-up, the two board a single-engine plane to their friend’s wedding location but halfway in, the pilot has a heart attack and dies.
Good news - Sara has taken flight lessons before. Bad news - it was only for a few lessons. What faces the couple for the duration of the film are tough choices they have to make when extenuating circumstances present themselves to them, including a broken compass, low fuel and a staggering storm blocking their path.
The circumstances actually were inspired by real-life questions the writers had during their own holidays. Screenwriters Josh Campbell & Matt Stuecken each had their own moments of doubt when flying. For Campbell, it was during a honeymoon flight with his fiancee at the Cook Islands, when he suddenly felt overwhelmed by the endless blue seas. He thought, “You’re over the water the whole time you’re in the air, and you cannot see land, so if you do have plane issues ... you’re in trouble.”
Stuecken and his wife endured a more physical manifestation. They once traveled in a small plane through a thunderstorm, which of course made him question, “what will happen if something goes wrong up here?”
The writers did infuse these horrific realisations into the movie really well, including a decision near the ending that has horrific consequences, but sometimes the pace and degree at which things get flung at them do seem more than a little unlucky.
In a press release, the writers alluded as much to the fact that this was their intention. From these experiences, the idea for a screenplay developed which Stuecken confesses they had the idea “to always throw bigger obstacles at Jackson and Sara. Just when they solved one problem, we threw another one at them!”
However, the photogenic stars and Director Mikael Marcimain still manages to keep the movie buoyant with engaging characters that are easy to root for. While their streak of bad luck will be tragic if it actually happened, it makes for some nail-biting moments as entertainment.
(A situational thriller that tightens with excitement, even if the proceedings sometimes become a little unbelievable)
Review by Morgan Awyong