June 7, 2011

Shuttle (2008)



"A late night airport shuttle ride home descends into darkness."

I have no idea how I found this recently or why I didn't watch it when it came out in 2008 but I'm sure it had a lot to do with "Shuttle" being marketed as a "crime drama" rather than the gory horror film that it actually is.

Somehow I must have just started randomly adding things to my Netflix queue just to see what they were about and, to be perfectly honest, I was quite prepared to switch this off after the first 60 seconds or so because it looked like it was going to be a "Turistas" rip-off like "Train" (which was also from 2008).

I'm glad I stuck with it though as it was definitely the best film that I've seen this month, full of suspense and only slightly annoying characters. If people doing all the wrong things to escape from the killers in horror movies annoys you then this will frustrate the hell out of you too but in a good way. You can learn a lot from "Shuttle" by imagining yourself in the same situation and thinking about how you would handle it differently.

Among all the obvious formulas, tropes and clich├ęs, there are many elements of "Shuttle" which you know you've seen hundreds of times before. Everything from cellphones not working (in downtown LA!) to not making sure the villain is really dead before he comes back to get you again is thrown into the mix but it's all done so well that, if you haven't watched that many horror films, you could almost fool yourself into thinking that you are watching them for the first time even if it is all a bit far-fetched.

Where "Shuttle" lacks a certain amount of credibility is in how the characters react to obvious chances to escape from their ordeal. You can tell from the start that this is going to be mainly about the two girls in the story more than the others and they do the stupidest things. I'm trying to avoid spoilers here but, seriously, if you are being held against your will by someone you've already seen kill other people and you get their gun, you know what you have to do. Also, should you ever get the chance to be released for just a moment, it's all about self-preservation and screw everybody else.

Things that stand out in a positive way are that all the actors are really good though none apart from Tony Curran as the bus driver seem to be famous for anything other than TV roles. The two girls, Peyton List and Cameron Goodman, are very easy on the eye too.

The whole story may be somewhat ludicrous but the internal logic of the film is flawless and doesn't break the "willing suspension of disbelief" enough times to make you not want to watch it all the way to the end. The gory moments are surprisingly effective and quite realistic even though, again, there's really nothing that you haven't seen done before.

Because I had no idea what "Shuttle" was about or how it was going to end, I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. It just isn't the most original movie of its kind especially as it reminded me in some ways of "Judgment Night" (1993) and "Final Jeopardy" (1985) which I highly recommend even though they aren't horror movies at all. I suppose you could almost class any of these films as "survival horror" rather than "thrillers" but usually that term is used for things like "The Hills Have Eyes" or "A Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and none of them are in the same league as those horror genre classics.

As controversial as it may be, I'm actually going to add "Shuttle" to The Vault. I'm not sure that I would watch it again for quite a while (if at all) but it was certainly better than any of the other "Hostel" clones without being "torture porn" at all.

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