Reviewed By Jason Whyte
Posted 04/04/08 02:18:45

"Erm...could I just rent a car instead?"
1 stars (Sucks)

SCREENED AT THE 2008 SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FESTIVAL: Here is one of the lamest and silliest thrillers in many a moon, a film that has an interesting concept but completely fails to deliver on any level. A shame, as “Shuttle” has an interesting look and a few interesting performances, but hits every wrong note as a thriller. The audience I saw this film with had a visceral reaction, but by visceral I mean loud groans, eye rolls and a few too many laugh out loud moments.

Mel (Peyton List) and Jules (Cameron Goodman) are returning from their spring trip. Nearly stuck in the airport, they find a transit shuttle that can take them all the way home. But as the dark tones and mood music will tell you, this is not just any shuttle service. It has a man behind the wheel – since he’s unnamed, let’s call him Driver (Cullen Douglas) – who begins to terrorize the girls along with the other passengers on the shuttle bus. It’s up to Mel and Jules to save the day, although they’re obviously not very good at self defense, as watching “Shuttle” will be the ultimate test on just how much they can screw up.

There’s a bewildering moment about thirty minutes in, where Jules, Mel and company appear to be in control over the Driver assailant at gunpoint, to which the Driver retorts “You could kill me, but then that would make you a murderer!” This makes absolutely no sense, as Mel could shoot him in self defense and the three witnesses around him could testify to that. This sequence only exists, anyway, so that Driver can escape and the film can go on for longer than it needs to.

The whole movie is like this. In many thrillers, most of the leads do silly things until they finally smarten up in the last reel. Here, however, the protagonists leave areas wide open for them to either get in trouble or let the bad guy get away. And even if there’s a bit of female empowerment handy in the last act of the film, it is far from the “You Go, Girl!” attitude of the last twenty minutes of “Death Proof”. I hate to say this, but if these girls are too scared to fire off a gun even if it means their life, they deserve to get whatever is coming.

You’d think that director Edward Anderson has seen a few of these thrillers and would know how to keep us on the edge of our seats. Yet when I was watching this at the world famous Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, I was more interested in the plate of cookies and ice cream sitting on my table. We, the audience, always seem to be two steps ahead of everyone in the movie, and nothing is surprising. He does know how to direct a picture, as the images look nice on screen, but if the best thing in your movie is cinematography, then something is wrong.

As for the performances, they are mostly painful to watch, although lead actress Peyton List is a future star. She has the right kind of beauty, big smile and talent that will take her places, and let’s hope that casting directors will not see this film so they can avoid her awkward line readings and unbelieveable things that she does in the course of the film. She carries a big weight over her co-stars, who are far too stilted to be taken seriously.

I hate to be so hard on a little indie-thriller, yet “Shuttle” is a laughable experience that insults our intelligence by throwing silly characters into an idiot plot. You don’t even care if Mel and Jules survive the day (you know they will at some point), all you’ll care about are when those end credits will finally hit the screen.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.