Starring Peyton List, Cameron Goodman and Tony Curran
Written and directed by Edward Anderson
It’s not a compliment when critic Roger Ebert calls Shuttle “a relentless march into the dark” as part of his one-star-out-of-five review. Still, that quote adorns the DVD’s back cover, and it’s an accurate assessment. Writer Edward Anderson’s filmmaking debut is a tense thriller remarkable for its bleakness.
Peyton List (TV’s Mad Men) and Cameron Goodman play Mel and Jules, BFFs just back home from vacation. It’s late, the airport is deserted and they decide to accept a freelance bus driver’s offer (Tony Curran: Midnight Meat Train) to take them downtown. A handsome pair of bros the girls met earlier horn in on the ride against the driver’s objections. Their only other companion is a nervous accountant (Cullen Douglas).
Soon enough, though, the quintet find themselves on a journey to hell as their driver takes them on a circuitous route nowhere near their destination. Confrontations ensue, their driver pulls a gun, and soon enough his plan for the girls – and there is a plan – starts to come into focus.
First-time director Anderson is relatively skilled as a filmmaker, although it’s the idea of the film, as opposed to its execution, which is the strongest aspect of Shuttle. His characters are not completely sketched out, but List and Goodman create empathetic portraits of friends who just want to get home but find themselves subject to a greater horror than simple robbery. Likewise, Curran, best known to horror fans for his intense portrayal of the vampire Marcus from Underworld: Evolution, brings dimension to his unnamed driver; not just a remorseless killer, there’s a terribly pedestrian method to his madness.
Shuttle is grim. Anderson offers the audience glimmers of hope as the tables are turned more than once in the girls’ favour. That things end the way they do is pretty devastating. There’s little entertainment to be had here, but, as an exercise in misery porn, it’s an effective reminder that happy endings don’t always happen.