Director; Alexander Bruckner. Starring; Ben Dahlhaus, Andrew Garret, Gaelle Gillis. NR. 2020. 18 Minutes.
When it comes to quality, no question the low budget short “The Passenger” is aesthetically well crafted. Director Alexander Bruckner put together a clean experience on the surface. The problem is this story is yet another attempt at one of the dumbest plot devices filmmakers continue to do for some reason. Why do people continually think ripping off “Fight Club” is still a good idea more than 20 years later is beyond me.
We open with a scorpion in the desert, a running theme here, as a car approaches in the night. Two unnamed men, a nerdy seeming driver and badass leather jacket passenger. The driver needs the passenger to commit a crime that he is too afraid to commit. The passenger taunts how weak this guy is in the car ride before telling him to pull over at a rest stop.
At the stop the duo overhears a man beating his presumed girlfriend in the bathroom. The badass attacks and takes the abuser down with a tire iron. He tells the girl, who is defending the asshole despite having a bloodied face, to leave by the count of 10. Then it is up to the nerve-racked wimp to take care of business. And at this point I’m sure you know what is going on.
There are several positives going on in “The Passenger”. The scorpion motif is quite clever once you see it play out from beginning to end. Our two stars, which admittedly are not great, show glimpses of genuine chemistry. My old friend Grant MacAllister does a solid job as the film’s cinematographer. Shots are immediate and there is a subtlety to his framing. My only problem Grant, drop the damn lens flares. Don’t be one of those. Use it as a part of telling the story if necessary, which it can be, but not because people think it is cool because of J.J. Abrams.
Flaws are less than the good stuff. The guy who plays the abuser (Randy Hernandez) is an awful actor. Dude, we can all see you are a massive person. But it looks like you are acting so hard to tell the viewer just how menacing you are. Also the ending, which I will not reveal, makes zero sense. How did that one person end up at that other person’s house?
No denying “The Passenger” is made on the scale of up and coming filmmakers. There are flaws. But again, for what it is, this is a movie that shows a great deal of promise for those that made it. Cannot wait to see what they come up with next.