Ride-sharing with strangers can be enough of a challenge on a good day, so cross your fingers your next trip isn’t happening in the middle of a ruthless alien invasion. That’s exactly the scenario 4 strangers find themselves fighting through in Raúl Cerezo & Fernando González Gómez’s debut feature The Passenger (La Pasajera). Directing from a screenplay written by Luis Sánchez-Polack, with additional writing credits for Asier Guerricaechebarría (Errementari), Javier Echániz, and Raúl Cerezo, The Passenger stars Cecilia Suárez, Paula Gallego, Cristina Alcázar, and Ramiro Blas ([Rec] 4: Apocalypse) and the group’s boisterous drive Blasco.
Traveling to a village hundreds of kilometers away, Blasco has been hired to drive 3 strangers from the city. Hours into the drive, and under the cover of thick fog, Blasco accidentally runs over a strange woman stumbling in the middle of the road. The group places the injured woman in the back seat of the van, against Blasco‘s protests, and rush to find a hospital. Unfortunately for them, this mysterious woman isn’t looking to hitch a ride in a motor vehicle. She’s much more interested in finding a comfy spot inside one of the unlucky travelers.
” Good News: The Passenger‘s alien creatures are slimy and sinister, and (best of all) 100% practical.”
Ramiro Blas’ Blasco is a really fun character. He’s larger than life, full of good stories, and chaotically optimistic. His smile is infectious and he romanticizes the ups and downs of life like a Hemingway hero. He’s very much a “print the legend, not the truth” type of guy but as he tells it, he’s been a bullfighter, a musician, and an exterminator (among other things) before becoming their hired driver. His van, Nessa, is his one true love and he cares for her as though she were his wife. Blasco is a hoot, and Ramiro Blas is the shining star of The Passenger. Second only, perhaps, to Nessa.
The story makes a few stops here and there but is mostly contained to the confines of Nessa‘s cozy interior. If Blasco is a charismatic Walter Matheu, Nessa is the eccentric but dependable Jack Lemon of this odd couple. If there were ever a motor vehicle to receive a best supporting actor nomination, I would hope it would be Nessa. She’s sassy, sturdy, and stubborn. And I loved her.
But you don’t want to read about some adorable van. You’re a dyed-in-the-wool sci-fi fan that’s only concerned with the goo and guck of the interstellar invaders terrorizing this rag-tag band of road trippers. Well, good news, The Passenger‘s alien creatures are slimy and sinister, and (best of all) they are 100% practical. Every ounce of extraterrestrial gook, and every face that gets ripped off, is tactile and textured and super-duper gross looking. If you’re a sci-fi fan desperate for a return to the heyday of make-up effects, you’re going to love the hijinks The Passenger has in store for you.
Story-wise, this high-grade b-movie has a few dips but it’s a fun ride from beginning to end. It’s never without a good laugh or a funky practical effect, but few quick cuts might have helped speed up some of the second act. On the other hand, I’m a guy who wishes all movies were 70 minutes so maybe I’m just an impatient viewer. That said, I think The Passenger would make for a killer double-bill with Edgar Wright’s The World’s End. It’s full of goofy moments, brilliant character payoff and, of course, creepy-crawly alien monsters 👾
” …full of goofy moments, brilliant character payoff, and creepy-crawly alien monsters 👾”
Raúl Cerezo & Fernando González Gómez’s The Passenger (La Pasajera) screened in Kansas City, MO as an official selection of Panic Fest 2022. Click HERE to follow our continued coverage of the festival and be sure to let us know what you thought of this sci-fi horror-comedy after you’ve had a chance to see it over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.