With 7500, Takashi Shimizu takes on the airplane horror genre. This is something that has taken off in recent years from non-genre thrillers like Red Eye (2005), Flightplan (2006) and Non-Stop (2014) to horror oriented ones like Tail Sting (2002), Snakes on a Plane (2006), Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane (2007), Quarantine 2: Terminal (2008) and Lost in the Pacific (2016). The film also has clips from Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (1963), the classic The Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner seeing a gremlin on a plane wing, screening at one point. Although what we have here, at least during its initial scenes, suggests that it is coming closest to the The Last Fright episode of the Thai anthology Phobia (2008) with a lone flight attendant terrorised by a corpse aboard the plane.
On the basis of Takashi Shimizus commendable work elsewhere, I came expecting that he would do amazing things with the airplane horror genre. The film certainly has an intriguing build-up and you keep watching just to find out what is going on. On the other hand, you keep waiting for Shimizu to do something astounding directorially or to introduce something of the uncanny dread he did in the Grudge films only he never does. 7500 gets in some mild eeriness but there is nothing of note that would not have been brought to the show by a run of the mill director.
The film keeps what is going on from us until right at the end only when it does reveal its hand, it ends up being a major disappointment. [PLOT SPOILERS]. It turns out all that we get is yet another variant on the deathdream film in which a series of bizarre and uncanny happenings are revealed to be the hallucinations of people in their dying moments. There have been a great many of these beginning with An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962) and continuing through the likes of Carnival of Souls (1962), Seizure/Queen of Evil (1974), Siesta (1987), Jacobs Ladder (1990), Final Approach (1991), A Pure Formality (1994), The Others (2001), Soul Survivors (2001), The Brown Bunny (2003), Dead End (2003), I Pass for Human (2004), Hidden (2005), Reeker (2005), Stay (2005), The Escapist (2008), The Haunting of Winchester House (2009), Someones Knocking at the Door (2009), Wound (2010), A Fish (2012), Leones (2012) and The Abandoned/The Confines (2015) and, of course, The Sixth Sense (1999). Indeed, the specific plot of airline crash passengers not realising that they are dead as spooky happenings occur around them has been done in several other films with The Survivor (1981), Sole Survivor (1983) and Passengers (2008).
The great irritation about the deathdream twist, aside from the fact that it has become overused in recent years to the point it is well and truly time to put it out to pasture, is that all of the films require a massive amount of misdirection to convince us to look one way and become absorbed in things that are happening before pulling out the rug. 7500 gives us lots of cryptic mystery about the dead passenger having possibly been killed by a Japanese death doll, the mysterious disappearances possibly due to some type of creature on board snatching passengers, maybe the first dead passenger not being dead after all, before the twist frustratingly renders all of this build-up meaningless. What makes this even more frustrating is that once what is happened is explained, the film goes out with a final jump with something lurking in a garbage can that contradicts this explanation.