The Langoliers has become a cult classic since it’s release in 1995, it was initially a two part made for TV series but a combination of it’s awesome plot and cringe-worthy acting has seen the work develop a large following and it is now more widely viewed as a movie.
The story is an adaption of a Stephen King novella in which a group of passengers on board a flight to Boston simultaneously awake to find that the cabin crew, pilots and their fellow passengers have mysteriously disappeared leaving behind only jewelry, watches and other personal belongings.
The remaining passengers consist of blind eight year old girl Dinah Bellman who exhibits supernatural senses in the absence of her sight, retired engineer Don Gaffney, obnoxious investment banker Craig Toomy, mystery writer Bob Jenkins (Dean Stockwell) , British mechanic Nick Hopewell, geeky young musician Albert Kaussner, rebellious teen Bethany Simms, teacher Laurel Stevenson and Captain Brian Engle (David Morse) who fortunately for everyone involved, happens to be an off duty pilot.
Desperate to make sense of the situation, Engle and Hopewell bust open the door of the cockpit to find the cabin empty and the controls flying on auto pilot. Engle immediately takes control of the plane and frantically radios for help but there is no response and when the passengers realize that the usually vibrant Boston city lights below are no longer visible, they make the decision to land in nearby Bangor airport. Hotshot banker Toomy is infuriated by this and protests that he must arrive in Boston at 9am to attend an important business meeting, his sanity begins to unravel and he experiences intermittent flashbacks to his childhood where his father threatens, tortures and teases poor “Craigy Waigy” with tales of “The Langoliers”, fearsome and terrible creatures that prey on procrastinators and eat lazy little boys with their razor sharp teeth for dinner.
Upon landing in Bangor the group are distraught to find the airport is totally abandoned and it becomes apparent that there is something truly supernatural happening, the air tastes and smells different, there’s no echo anywhere they go, soda cans aren’t carbonated, food is tasteless, beer is flat and every clock they find has stopped ticking at the exact same time. Just when things couldn’t get any weirder, Dinah begins hearing terrible noises in the distance and pleads with the group to get back on the plane and leave as something terrible is about to happen.
In typical Stephen King fashion the responsibility of explaining the seemingly in-explainable falls to mystery writer Bob Jenkins in a scene where the survivors retrace the events surrounding their disappearance to deduce that the plane somehow entered a wormhole and thrust anyone who happened to be sleeping into the past, the ominous noise in the distance was actually time itself being consumed by monsters that sounded awfully similar to the ones in Craig Toomy’s Father’s tales.
From here on in the movie descends into absolute madness as the survivors decide they must refuel their plane and fly back towards the wormhole in the hope they can time travel back to the present day and escape the oncoming Langoliers, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll witness an investment banker lose his mind, stab and murder a blind child who returns in the form of psychic visions to later lure him to his rather unpleasant demise.
The acting is so bad it’s good, most of the heavy lifting is done by David Morse and Dean Stockwell, they are seasoned pros and they play their parts but the script definitely hasn’t aged well and the cast playing opposite them look and sound like they have come straight from their first acting class.
The end of the movie is truly shocking and for all the wrong reasons. The group manage to return to the present by travelling back through the wormhole but they have suffered casualties losing Dinah, Toomy, Don Gaffney and in a bizarre twist Nick Hopewell who sacrifices himself by depressurizing the cabin to ensure his fellow passengers are sleeping when travelling back through the wormhole.
It’s all as weird and as clunky as it sounds and the final scene is so cringe-worthy it will haunt you. A cult classic and definitely worth the watch, if only for the laughs.