“A tight little indie thriller.”

Released without fanfare, Brad Osborne’s Chariot, wasn’t a film I really expected to deliver much in the way of entertainment, as thrillers set entirely on an airplane can become a tedious affair unless helmed by the experienced with serious money behind them. And Chariot may not be quite on par with the likes of Robert Schwentke’s $55 million Flightplan, for example, yet kept me interested from the outset. This was in part thanks to Eric Vale’s screenplay, with some decent performances by the cast, and sound direction from Osborne, all coming together to create a tight little indie thriller. It may not be quite up to cinematic standards, but for home-viewing it was more than adequate.

Directed by
Brad Osborne
Anthony Montgomery, Ian Sinclair, Brina Palencia
Release Date
19 November 2013
Nav’s Grade: C+

A small group of strangers wake up on an airplane which is already flying high above the clouds, destination unknown. They immediately begin to question each other to try to figure out how and why they got there, but no one appears to know anything that can answer those questions, and they discover their cellphones are missing. One of the passengers eventually finds one after a search of the plane, and they finally get in touch with someone in charge. It appears the US has come under attack, and the plane has accidentally lifted off without a full complement, which should have included important people worth saving. The passengers are told they must attempt to get the flightcrew to open the cabin door so they can be warned of the change of destination as the base they are headed for has been destroyed, but since 911, the flightcrew have standing orders to open fire on any unauthorized entry attempt, but this doesn’t stop the passengers from trying, with unpredictable results.

There were some good performances by the cast, particularly from Michelle Sherrill and Brina Palencia, with Leslie Hippensteel getting a chance to steal a scene, but Anthony Montgomery (of Star Trek fame) gave a good, grounded, somewhat understated showing, which set him as the clear star of this indie. That’s not to say the others did any less, as without this small and talented ensemble, Chariot wouldn’t have been just as entertaining, especially with the characters they had to play, with most managing a perfunctory, yet interesting backstory, again, thanks to the script.

What I found most surprising about Chariot was what was achieved with a micro-budget of only $40 thousand and change. The penny-pinching isn’t too obvious, with the funds appearing to have been spent wisely by Osborne and his team, and shows just what you can put together when you are passionate at what you do as a filmmaker, which is abundantly clear in this instant.

While there were certain things that didn’t seem believable, and I can’t really say without spoiling any of the film, it was mostly feasible, and I don’t doubt this sort of thing could actually happen, as the filmmaker would have us believe.

Chariot isn’t without flaws, of which there are surprisingly few, but these are easily overlooked, as director-editor, Osborne has succeeded in keeping this film thrilling, with some nice pacing and good camerawork to boot, to give us a movie that surpassed my expectations, as I’m sure it will yours.

Director, Brad Osborne, was kind enough to answer a couple of my questions about making Chariot.

Nav: How long was the shoot and what were the biggest obstacles with filming in an actual plane? How much consideration and planning went into the shots, to keep them interesting to the viewer?

Brad: Ah! Well, the shoot was 12 days. Our biggest obstacles were shooting in a small, confined space and the fact that we had no climate control (so the plane was either freezing or like an oven). Because of the budget and our time-constraints, we had to keep production simple and fast. I chose hand-held because it conveyed immediacy and realism; what was of primary importance to me was getting solid, believable performances by the actors (who were wonderful).

Nav: You had a mix of seasoned actors and the relatively inexperienced, comparatively speaking, yet they each brought their A-game. Did the “old-pro’s” help bring them along, do you think?

Brad: Anthony Montgomery certainly brought the most experience, but we cast very carefully to get actors who could tackle their roles without a lot of rehearsal (again, because of time-constraints). I think we all would have loved to shoot scenes 10 different ways instead of 2 or 3, but keeping on schedule was paramount. That’s why casting was such a critical part of this project. It’s an ensemble piece and you’re stuck on that plane with these characters in real time, seeing only what they’re seeing (no exterior shots), so the performances had to be believable and compelling.

by Nav Qateel

Chariot Poster with INFLUX Magazine quote. Click to enlarge.