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Review: Horizon Line (2021)

Horizon Line (2021)

Directed by: Mikael Marcimain

Premise: A couple travels over the ocean in a single engine plane. The pilot dies of a heart attack mid-flight and the passengers must figure out how to operate the aircraft and navigate their way to land.

What Works: Most of Horizon Line consists of two characters in a small plane. That limits the cinematic possibilities and puts a lot of demands on the actors and the filmmakers. Director Mikael Marcimain finds ways to keep the material cinematic. The shots don’t get repetitive despite a lot of the movie consisting of two people inside the cabin of a small plane. Horizon Line is well shot. The scenes on the island capture the natural beauty of the environment and the flat expansiveness of the ocean’s surface effectively dwarfs the aircraft. Horizon Line looks convincing; if the backgrounds were accomplished using green screen or some other kind of compositing it’s not obvious. Actors Allison Williams and Alexander Dreymon are well paired in the lead roles and the early portions of the film set them up as a likable couple. Once the action moves to the air, Horizon Line is entirely Williams and Dreymon’s show and the two actors keep up the anxiety. The continuous nature of this story rests a lot of the movie’s success on the actors’ performances and Williams and Dreymon do their best to keep this story credible even as it gets increasingly silly.

What Doesn’t: Horizon Line takes quite a while to get going. The film spends its opening portion giving the couple a backstory. She is an office employee working in London while he runs a beachside business in Mauritius and despite their mutual attraction neither of them is willing to give up their lifestyle. The scenario of Horizon Line puts the couple in a life and death situation in which they are supposed to bond. The film never really accomplishes that. The characters are likable enough but the interpersonal drama is flat and not very interesting, especially for the amount of screen time dedicated to setting it up. Open Water did the same thing much more economically and to much greater effect. Survival stories like Horizon Line work best when they are plausible. The conceit of the story is credible but after the pilot’s heart attack the movie consists of a series of stunts that are at best unlikely and increasingly absurd. The end of the movie is especially nonsensical and Horizon Line concludes with a deus ex machina resolution.

DVD extras: Deleted scenes.

Bottom Line: Horizon Line is entertaining but dumb. The story takes too long to get going and then snaggles the movie’s credibility into a mess of absurd storytelling choices. But Horizon Line is technically well made and features committed performances.

Episode: #861 (July 25, 2021)