Twists and turns in a horror script can either be a blessing or a curse. If the majority of audience manipulations are at all familiar, seasoned vets can spot them a mile away. But if there is story drive and originality behind such choices, the trip can be a beautifully unknown one. In the case of the German genre import "On Air" the device is used to it’s fullest potential, keeping the audience both firmly engrossed and off kilter – the power of the page.
A family man runs a pirate radio show called Nighthawk out of his basement every Saturday. Using the name of Doc Rock, he brandishes his own brand of controversial talk and cool rock to anyone within earshot. Unfortunately tonight the person looking to connect is a deviant serial killer known as The Night-Slasher and he’s assigned the rock jock with an interesting task – convince the slasher not to kill his current victim.
To reveal more would be a crime (even more then the heinous ones perpetrated by our gracious slice and dice man!), but rest assured if you think this premise is all too familiar (radio show gets real!) think again. Under the ample script by Marco J. Riedl (who also co-directed) there’s enough surprises and out of left fields to keep the most ardent of genre fans on their toes. It’s actually key to the success of "On Air," as at times the performances can become a tad over played (killer Charles Rettinghaus comes from the big spectacle school of performance!) and the music a bit overwhelming. (High notes that seem to say, ‘Look out!’)
But it all comes back to the blueprint and this one has got a solid foundation. Like so many great thrillers before it, "On Air" understands that various film elements may come and go, but the written word always wins in the end.
Title: "On Air"
Stars: 3 1/2
Cast: Markus Knuefkan, Charles Rettinghaus, Ronald Nitschke
Director: Carsten Vauth & Marco J. Riedl
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Company: Polster & Pohl Pictures
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