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[PANIC FEST] THE PASSENGER Review - A Story of Survival and Familial Bonds

Sarah Kirk calls The Passenger a passionate, nerve-wracking, and amusing film with comedic and fierce acting performances.

Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez's independent Spanish horror film, THE PASSENGER screened at Panic Fest 2022.
Courtesy of Dark Star Pictures

THE PASSENGER (LA PASAJERA) is an independent Spanish horror film filled with disgusting, gory creatures, dark humor, and other supernatural elements. Directors Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez craft an emotionally gut-wrenching film with engaging performances and notable cinematography. They present a story about how people can change and work together in times of crisis.

Blasco (Ramiro Blas), Mariela (Cecilia Suárez), Lidia (Cristina Alcázar), and Marta (Paula Gallego) find themselves in a van together, en route to their respective destinations. In the first stage of their journey, they come across an unidentified broken object and a creature that looks like a slimy alien. Marta touches it, and her finger becomes infested. They travel farther, and Blasco accidentally hits a woman stranded on the road. The group agrees to bring her to safety, but the woman, inhabited by an alien-like creature, tries to occupy and kill everyone in the car. Blasco, Lidia, and Marta flee into the woods as the creature, taking over Mariela’s body, tries to hunt them down. Lidia makes a tough decision, while Blasco and Marta, who slightly disdain one another, must bond and survive this nightmare together with Nessa, Blasco’s trusty van.

Blas and Gallego’s performances are engaging and genuine. Their characters are multidimensional, and their skills as actors are evident in every scene. Blasco and Marta have major character arcs in the film. He casually spews misogynistic remarks toward the three women in the car. As the road trip worsens, Blasco’s protective nature kicks in, and he begins to defend and care for Marta. Their relationship is amusing and heartwarming. They each have witty and sarcastic personalities and continuously have verbal sparring matches. Initially, Marta comes off as a spoiled teen but reveals herself to be daring and vulnerable. Through their harrowing experience, they form a father-daughter bond that contrasts their previous interactions. Their relationship provides comedic relief throughout horrifying scenes.

Ignacio Aguilar's cinematography helped to shape the film in frightening ways. His work made watching the movie a terrifying experience. It kept my attention, even during the vilest scenes. Several close-up shots were used during intense fighting scenes, making viewers feel like part of the action. The close-ups of the creature's face and the transference of the alien from person to person have great detail. Shallow focus shots are also present. A bumper sticker reading “Alien on Board” in an ironic close-up provides comedic relief. Aguilar’s compelling imagery contributes to the frightening ambiance.

THE PASSENGER is passionate, nerve-wracking, and amusing. Blas and Gallego have great chemistry, creating characters with immense depth. The direction from Cerezo and Gómez is brilliant, and they craft a story where despite the character’s differences, they work together to survive. It’s perfect for those who love a blend of horror, science fiction, and graphic gore.

THE PASSENGER releases theatrically on June 3 in the United States and to DVD on June 28.



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