Let it be known, I'm not a very religious person by any means, so when I saw that Mayday was being marketed as a film "from the executive producer of Left Behind," I was instantly stricken by the fear that I was about to be force-fed some lowkey religious propaganda. Thankfully, this wasn't the case, but that doesn't mean the film wasn't without its unforgivable issues.
To be honest, before this one, the last film I watched that took place on an airplane was Snakes on a Plane back in 2006, a film that I consider an enjoyable guilty pleasure. So, with Mayday, I was more than willing to venture back into the skies for some more airborne mayhem.
Filmmaker Massimiliano Cerchi's (Hellinger, Holy Terror) Mayday takes us onboard Flight 88 from Los Angeles to London, wherein frequent power outages lead to passengers mysteriously disappearing one by one (it sure does sound a lot like Left Behind, huh?). With the remaining passengers lives on the line, an Air Marshal (Michael Paré) jumps into action while he tries to determine what is going on.
Mayday wastes no time whatsoever in getting to the action, as the first disappearance takes place shortly after the plane leaves the runway, but as a whole, the film unfortunately feels like an missed opportunity. Mayday's story as a whole is fairly unoriginal and reminded me of Final Destination in a way, but it did have some redeeming qualities that could've saved the film if the airplane setting was used properly. In my opinion, a plane is a near perfect place to shoot a horror flick. It's claustrophobic, most passengers are already on edge, and once your 30,000 feet up in the air, there's nowhere to run and hide.
Look, I'm really not someone who likes to completely shit all over a film in my reviews, and I don't plan on doing so here. However, that doesn't mean I wasn't let down by my experience with the film. I know Cerchi and his team put a lot of time and money into Mayday, and I really wanted to like the film, I truly did, but I can't help but be annoyed by its wasted potential. It's as though the film never really found its footing and continuously fell flat at nearly every turn as it struggled to keep focus on a distinct idea.
I won't even go as far in saying that Mayday is a horrible film, but I will say that I'd much rather love or hate a film than feel like it tip-toed the line of mediocrity in nearly every way. The acting ranged from hokey and forced to somewhat believable. Michael Paré did a pretty great job in his role, as did Crystal Santos and Chanel Ryan. Michael Wainwright was also a pleasure to watch as a distraught passenger who doesn’t want to let go of his briefcase. Although, I wish the film had done a bit more with some of its more interesting characters, but most were ignored or gone shortly after being introduced. Finally, the film is blatantly obvious in regards to who/what is behind all of the disappearances. I kept hoping for the old bait and switch, telling myself "they couldn't have made it that obvious, right?" Let's just say, you'll probably figure it all out well before the reveal.
As I said above, I don't plan to totally tear this film to shreds. It's not all bad. The cinematography is clean, well-executed and quite creative at times, there are some effective scares, and the whole lights flickering leading to another passenger disappearance schtick is somewhat implemented effectively. I'll also say that at 72 minutes long (not including credits), Mayday isn't completely drawn out and never felt like a chore to get through. I also appreciated the practical creature suit, even though it gets very little screen time.
All in all, if you're looking for looking for that next intense airborne thriller, Mayday probably won't satiate your cravings. I can see casual viewers finding some enjoyment with the film, but avid horror fans may want to steer clear. It's a shame that Mayday squandered so much potential, because it could have truly been something awesome. Instead, it's a relatively forgettable film.