Directed by: David Campbell
Starring: Jessica Tovey, Nicholas Gunn, Pippa Black
Three American backpackers, Maya, Toby and Geordie, travelling through Australia are introduced to a local ghost legend by two of their local friends Amelia and her brother Oscar - if you drive really fast down Lemon Tree Passage, you'll see the ghost of a dead motorist trying to get you to slow down. Naturally, the friends try out the legend, and do indeed see the ghost - but their presence also disturbs something else, a dark presence which ensnares them out in the wilderness...
A short while ago, I reviewed a film called A Haunting in Silver Falls, remarking at the time that its mild scares would make it a perfect starting point for young teens developing an interest in horror films. The Passage is in a very similar vein.
Things don't start off well for The Passage. I found the opening fifteen minutes to be quite the endurance test (I'm pretty sure I actually fell asleep). However, once the gang have done their silly jaunt down the road and spotted the ghost, things start to get very interesting.
One of the amusing aspects of the film is the way the teens approach the supernatural element to begin with. To them, trying to make contact with a ghost is something of a jaunt and not scary whatsoever. Even when the entity is right next to Oscar (which he can't see but the others can, and tell him about it over their walkie-talkie), its just a bit of bizarre fun.
Maya (Jessica Tovey) seems to be targeted by the supernatural presence that lurks along Lemon Tree Passage, which hits her with a psychic barrage of images which don't make a lot of sense to begin with. At the same time, the irascible Oscar suddenly disappears. Even then, they don't comprehend that they are in any danger.
There is some inventive ideas in the kill-scenes but they also create the film's biggest problem. Each victim is abducted and put into a precarious trap which is inadvertently set off by the others. When you discover who the malevolent spirit is, you have to wonder how it managed to pull off each kill. For example, one of the guys is hidden in the boot of their car, hooked up to the exhaust so they eventually die by Carbon monoxide poisoning because they keep the engine running to keep warm. But how was this set up? The film suggests that the spirit is possessing one of the teens, but that person was never in the right place to perpetrate the crime.
Its a big issue. On the one hand - cool idea, having each person accidentally killed by the very people trying to save them. However on the other hand - How? Especially when one of those set pieces involves a complex trap of ropes, pulleys and a hangman's noose.
Away from the kills, the film makes excellent use of darkness and the isolated location. When Sam an older guy who is in part responsible for the reason why all of this is going on - is forced to follow the others into the forest, he is harassed by a supernatural presence also, which takes a different tact to what the younger group are experiencing, and its pretty effective.
This isn't great but isn't bad either. Once things get going The Passage is pretty entertaining as long as you don't think about things too much. I enjoyed the nuttiness of it because you never really know where its heading.
7 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)