It's an exercise in hostage horror set almost entirely aboard an airport bus. If you're done snickering, listen up. It works.
"Shuttle," a nerve-twisting little shocker, deserves extra credit for the degree of difficulty of what it's attempting. It's an exercise in hostage horror set almost entirely aboard an airport bus. If you're done snickering, listen up. It works.
A couple of pretty girls on a late flight from a Mexican vacation congratulate themselves for making it back to the U.S. of A. with no kidneys missing. As hot babes will, they acquire two male admirers beside the luggage carousel, and the quartet boards the last downtown shuttle of the night.
They pass a few minutes flirting, and when they take notice of their location, they're cruising through some forbidding big-city neighborhoods, apparently lost. They're a bit cowed by the driver's gruff demeanor, but everyone pulls together when a flat tire strands the van. And suddenly we are on a slalom ride to hell.
The film is an efficiently engineered mechanism for creating suspense. Writer/director Edward Anderson takes his unlikely premise seriously and executes it with remorseless logic. The passengers outnumber the driver, we reason; why don't they simply overpower him? There is an answer, and each such question is dealt with in turn, until we feel as boxed-in as the passengers themselves.
There is a glaring continuity blooper involving a broken window, and the film asks us to accept that a human-rights offense common in poorly policed Third World countries is happening here as well. But the pace is so taut and the performances so polished that you feel as if you're sinking in a quagmire of dread. And the scares aren't just bloodshed for shock's sake. Anderson uses violence sparingly and to sharp effect.
Cameron Goodman and Peyton List play the endangered girls with more emotional depth (and more resourcefulness) than you'd expect, and Tony Curran's icy driver is a formidable villain. The death-cab-for-cutie premise gains an added measure of impact as a blue-collar revenge fantasy, but you don't need a sociological spin to make it work. "Shuttle" will creep the flesh right off your bones.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186