USA (dir. Sean Ellis)
Cast: Peyton List, Cameron Goodman, Cullen Douglas, Dave Power, James Snyder
Synopsis: When Jules and Mel return from a girls’ weekend vacation, they board an airport shuttle for the short ride home. But the trip slowly descends into darkness after a detour into a seedy neighborhood leads to a series of terrifying events that leave Mel, Jules and the other passengers fighting for their lives.
Sean Ellis is a director/writer that really hasn’t done much… ever. This would pretty much be his first horror movie, and only his second movie ever made – and yes, it does show a little bit. The beginning of Shuttle is very innocent: snapshots of girls on vacation. But as the pictures and video images progress, you get the feeling as though someone else is looking at these pictures, maybe even analyzing these pictures very attentively, because you see one video image rewound and rewatched several times. It is a great intro title sequence. Simple, haunting, to the point. It draws in your attention, because it has to, since (unfortunately) your pateince will be tested in the next 10 minutes. The next few scenes tend to lag. The camera work seems very amateurish, and the colours all seem gray and bland. Our two female leads are back from vacation, and it’s 2 AM at the airport. Nothing seems more eerie than the emptiness and loneliness of this airport, but unfortunately one of the idiot male leads screws up the scene’s sombre tone as he reveals to his buddy how desperate he is to screw one of the girls from their flight (the mentally challenged blonde named Jules). What follows is a tight sequence of events, girls and boys meet up, girls and boys discuss ways to catch a ride home from the airport, mentally challenged blonde finds a creepy bus driver standing in the rain (BEHIND THEM – first clue he’s been stalking them) who offers them a discounted fare for a ride home, girls get on shuttle, boys sweet-talk their way on the shuttle as well. From this point on the characters spend a good span of time getting to know one another on the bus before they realize they are being held hostage by their psycho bus driver.
What’s great about this movie is the locations provided by the screenplay. An airport at 2AM, a deserted industrial area tucked away from the big city, a fluorescently glowing (but empty) 24 hour shopping mart, and an underground parking garage with big football field lighting. These locales provide an amazing sense of loneliness to the film; almost a sense of captivity. It works great, because captivity is a huge theme in this film. Towards the end of the fim we get a small serving of cheddar cheese when the psycho bus driver somehow miraculously survives a head on collision and a gun shot to the HEAD that for some reason fails to dispatch him. What we do get instead is the death of the pitiful blonde retard and a killer twisty-ish ending that actually pushed the movie from average to above and beyond average. Seriously though, this ending is a socks-knock-off-er. You get to discover just why the girls were kept alive for so long and you get an answer to why their kidnapping needed to involve a stop at the supermarket for some kitty litter, water bottles, and a flashlight. Easily one of the most intense endings in a horror movie due to the harsh reality of it, and not just because of gore and blood. Hostel, eat your heart out.