Morbido 2021 Review: THE PASSENGER (La pasajera)
Blasco, a one time musician, one time matador, one time pest controller and all the time old school male finds himself leading a rideshare through the mountains in a van with three women. On the way to their destination they come across a wounded hiker in the middle of the road. They rush to take her to the local hospital but soon discover that her wounds may be worse than they initially thought and that may spell doom for everyone else in the van.
The root of Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez’s horror flick is the story of Blasco, a man of the old ways finding himself in a van with three strong women. Casually rude and misogynist, he delivers all of his quips without malice. He thinks he's hilarious, saying things like “vade retro”, as in “get behind me Satan”.
His passengers are Mariela, on her way to see her father, and Lidia who is dragging her daughter Marta to be dropped off at her father’s as well. Mariela appears to have some foundation of faith, seeking a solution to her present concerns while Lidia is a white-collar professional who has an opportunity abroad and needs to dump Marta first.
Marta is young, fresh and quick with verbal jabs. Comparing Blasco and his frankness to her mother’s overprotectiveness (for good reason we discover) she begins to warm up to him. Blasco too, takes a liking to Marta and her verbal sparring prowess. You can see it in Marta’s mannerisms. She takes her hoodie down, pulls her hair back, both signs of being comfortable around Blasco.
Meanwhile he continues to spar with Mariela and Lidia. They’ve both had bad men in their lives, fathers and husbands, which has given them fortitude and very little patience with Blasco’s personality. Later in the story, in a time of crisis, Blasco very quickly gives up the reason why he is how he is, how he justifies his misogyny. Mariela and Lidia are quick to point out that one incident doesn’t make up for a lifestyle of bad attitude.
It is the event on the mountain pass that begins to forge alliances between Blasco and his passengers, putting their quarrels aside. From the moment they come across some debris strewn across the road La pasajera takes off like a rocket, into a stratosphere of otherworldly chills and thrills. Sprinkling all the action with dark humor makes this little indie horror flick stand out.
Of course a lot of praise needs to be made for Cerezo and Gómez doing as much in camera effects as possible. A lot of it is terrific makeup effects with lots of goo. The in camera effects are so good that some of the digital effects they have to use take away from the moment. Otherwise, once it picks up there are loads of thrills and chills right through to the very end.
There is also evidence of skills with cameras and direction as well. There is an excellent oner at the end of the first act where the camera moves between Mariela and Lidia in the back and Blasco and Marta in the front. Left to right, back to front, then all over again. There are two different conversations happening at this moment but it all happens effortlessly and the directors should be acknowledged for this accomplishment.
In statements leading up to La pasajera’s premiere the directors said that their film is about this moment of crisis that galvanzies everyone, that differences can be put aside, that Lidia and Marta will realize they still love each other. Also we think it says that people of differing opinions and views can get along, that the common ground may not have to be as horrific as things that go bump in the night, but, it is possible to get along.
Time will tell when the hero emerges in La pasajera if this ending will pass the scrutiny of some members of the audience. It is difficult to tell if the filmmakers are giving permission for a person like Blasco to still exist or simply acknowledging that despite our best efforts people like him are out there and the best course of action is to try to get along rather than constantly fight it out all the time.