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Passenger review – this supernatural thriller is scarily fresh
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Passenger review – this supernatural thriller is scarily fresh

Ah, former Met detectives who have moved to quiet northern towns for personal reasons and find themselves longing for the big cases and exciting days of old – be careful what you wish for! Detective Riya Ajunwa (Wunmi Mosaku) is our frustrated gal here, in the actor Andrew Buchan’s screenwriting debut (no, come back, come back – it’s good!), Passenger. She moved to the small Lancastrian town of Chadder Vale five years ago with her husband, who wanted to be nearer his family.

After his departure, she is now responsible for caring for his mother who suffers from mental instability. Her workload primarily consists of finding lost garbage bins and occasionally rescuing cats. The only excitement comes from the protestors at a planned fracking location owned by Jim (played by David Threlfall), but other than that, it’s mostly just bins.

Fortunately, chance has not been on our side as there is an unpleasant presence within the nearby bread factory. This presence frequently comes and goes, causing shock and terror for the driver. The locals are perplexed by these dark substances and other unsettling occurrences, as they appear to have never encountered a supernatural situation spreading throughout a town before.

Katie Wells (played by Rowan Robinson) and her friend Mehmet (played by Shervin Alenabi) are driving through the woods late at night after getting into an argument with Katie’s boyfriend, John (played by Jack James Ryan). Suddenly, a large, dead, and bloody object falls onto the hood of the car. Mehmet is shocked and frozen in disbelief, as the situation is reminiscent of a classic folktale or television show. However, the movie Passenger manages to combine these familiar elements with a fresh and authentic feel. The next scene shows Mehmet safely back home and fast asleep in bed, but Katie is nowhere to be found.

No one seems to notice for a whole day, since Katie is young and has access to her mother’s car. As evidenced by the views in Chadder Vale, it appears that most people question why she would even bother returning. Just as her mother begins to suspect something is wrong, Katie comes back unharmed but with no explanation.

Meanwhile Riya found out about her team (who are funny) and their discovery of a segmented stag near Katie’s abandoned car in the woods. The stag is covered in some type of sticky black liquid, possibly motor oil. Riya sends it to the lab for further testing. She should probably also talk to Katie, who is exhibiting symptoms of illness and coughing up the black liquid, but Riya is distracted by Mehmet’s intense focus on a video game, almost as if he is possessed.

Additional fears are compounded with the looming supernatural threat. A man who was incarcerated for stabbing Jim has been granted an early release after serving only 10 years of his sentence. Eddie Wells, who is Katie’s father, is shunned by society but his wife welcomes him into their home. While she is away, he attempts to enter his younger daughter’s room, but she quickly locks him out with practiced ease.

This text discusses various forms of fear and apprehension, such as the daughter’s unspoken anxieties, the factory owner’s concerns about displeasing his superiors who use his facility for illegal activities, Jim’s PTSD, and the haunting terrors of the woods and its possibly sinister inhabitants. The two out of six episodes that were reviewed effectively balance the mundane and supernatural aspects, heightening the potential horror of both. In the woods by herself, Riya also experiences flashbacks related to a childhood trauma that has yet to be revealed.

There are instances during the story that can interrupt the flow. For example, Riya’s reaction to finding blood inside Katie’s car and on the handle is peculiarly nonchalant, considering she doesn’t yet know that Katie has returned. In the second episode, Katie discovers a website centered on “The Curse of Chadder Vale”. It’s surprising that she has never heard of it before and that none of the locals have mentioned it to Riya in the five years since she has been living there.

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However, this series remains confident and well-paced, with a strong atmosphere that I hope will persist and continue to be both sure-footed and frightening until the very end.

Source: theguardian.com