Home Horror Entertainment News Now Boarding: Terror Takes to the Skies in these Airplane-Set Horror Films

Now Boarding: Terror Takes to the Skies in these Airplane-Set Horror Films

by Chris Harper
airplane-set horror

Flying is never easy. Let’s be honest, it’s a total nightmare, and who knows when it’ll be safe to travel again. From turbulence to screaming babies, flying is like a horror film, and the genre has capitalized on the horrors of flight. These five airplane-set horror films full of snakes, zombies, ghosts, and death itself will have you rethinking your next flight.

Snakes on a Plane (2006)


Like Indiana Jones said, “Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?”  Snakes on a Plane is the ultimate airplane-set horror film–a high-octane thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Escorting a witness, FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) boards a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles. But this is no ordinary transfer as an assassin releases a crate of deadly snakes on the plane to kill the witness. Flynn and the rest of the passengers must band together if they want to survive the lethal attack.

Managing to be both fun and scary, Snakes on a Plane has exactly what you would expect from a movie like this. For being more of a B movie, the film still manages to get under your skin with some unnerving sequences of snakes slithering in between the aisles, underneath seats, falling from compartment heads, and biting and latching onto their victims. Outlandish, and not for the faint of heart, Snakes on Plane is an all-around good time filled with B-movie madness.

Flight 7500 (2014)

Something mysterious is happening on flight 7500. From the director of The Grudge, Takashi Shimizu, comes a terrifying thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

In the film, flight 7500 departs from Los Angeles International Airport bound for Tokyo. As the overnight flight makes its way over the Pacific Ocean during its ten-hour flight, the plane suffers turbulence resulting in a passenger suddenly dying. Unbeknownst to the rest of the passengers, a supernatural force is unleashed, slowly taking the passengers one by one.

The atmosphere is one of the highlights of the film as Takashi Shimizu crafts a moody, claustrophobic ghost tale. Flight 7500 is virtually a haunted house film set on a plane. Shimizu uses Japanese horror elements such as long, dark corridors and ghosts lurking in the background. You won’t find any long-haired ghost girls on this flight, however, as Shimizu uses the themes of death and grief to drive the story instead of the typical American jump scares.

Red Eye (2005)

No snakes or ghosts are needed to make this flight terrifying.

Primarily set on board on an airliner, Red Eye follows hotel manager Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams), flying back home from her grandmother’s funeral. Due to bad weather, the flight is delayed. While waiting for her flight, Lisa meets the irresistible Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy), and a romance begins to blossom.

As luck would have it, they’re seated together on the plane, but Lisa soon learns that this wasn’t a coincidence. Jackson hopes to assassinate the head of Homeland Security. To do that, he needs Lisa to reassign his hotel room. As insurance, Jackson has a hitman waiting to kill Lisa’s father if she doesn’t cooperate.

Red Eye is an airplane-set horror film filled with tension and classic suspense that only Wes Craven can pull off from start to finish. Tapping into our fears, the director crafts an intense psychological thriller with tight camera angles, ominous lighting, and tightly enclosed spaces, along with a menacing villain and a strong female lead.

Craven proved, once again, that he can scare us with Red Eye.

Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)

airplane-set horror Resident Evil

Years after the outbreak in Raccoon City, a zombie attack brings chaos to Harvardville Airport as Resident Evil: Degeneration begins.

The outbreak begins when a survivor of the original incident unleashes a variant of the T-Virus, causing the plane to crash inside the airport. Raccoon City survivors Claire Redfield (Alyson Court) and Leon Kennedy (Paul Mercier) are once again thrown into chaos as they are needed to contain the contagion before it spreads.

Will Claire and Leon be able to terminate the virus before it’s Raccoon City all over again?

Not entirely set on an airplane, Resident Evil: Degeneration is relentlessly frightening and filled with non-stop action. Degeneration will satisfy fans of the franchise as the film is more faithful to the games than the live-action films. The motion-capture CG animation is well executed, making the film looks and feels like a 90-minute cut-scene from the games. The film has effective jump scares, a gripping storyline, and is definitely worth watching.

Final Destination (2000)

Death takes flight with Final Destination.

Final Destination follows Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) embarking on a trip to Paris with his senior class. Before takeoff, Alex experiences a premonition and sees the plane explode. Alex insists that everyone get off the plane, trying to warn them of the impending disaster.

In the chaos, seven people, including Alex, are forced off the plane. Moments later, they watch as it explodes. Alex and the other survivors have cheated death, but death is coming for them, and they will not escape their fate. One by one, the survivors soon begin to fall victim to the grim reaper because there is no escaping death.

Final Destination takes death to new heights. The film is packed full of unexpected twists and over-the-top death sequences. Who can forget that infamous bus scene? But it’s the film’s opening sequence that generates the most anxiety and excitement. Being both inventive and original, Final Destination is a staple in horror cinema and delivers perhaps the most frightening airplane sequence of all time.

If these films weren’t enough for you, check out these other airplane-set horror films: Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane, Flight:666, the Hitchcockian thriller Flightplan, and for what it’s worth, check out the opening sequences to Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Rings.