Evil never shows its face in Last Passenger, opening April 25th at the Regal Meridian 16. It speaks. It speaks in a distorted voice over a speaker, from its perch in the driver’s seat of a deliberately-runaway train. It pilots itself towards destruction, which it embraces, and the only thing it wants to know, over the intercom squawk, is how many passengers it’s got left on the train. How many it will take with it when it goes back to the nothingness that makes its only blanket.
Those passengers include a widowed doctor, played by Dougray Scott; his young son, Joshua Kaynama; a pretty young lady, Kara Tointon; an immigrant, Iddo Goldberg, who knows more than he’s telling; and an older, suspect, fellow, David Schofield. All of them have to figure out where their own interpersonal relationships are going, and fast. Director and co-writer Omid Nooshin starts with the tentatively-personal nature of the train—we open up a bit in the presence of strangers, reasoning that we’ll never see any of them again—and then forces it. The train skips a stop, then it skips more stops. And the evil makes itself known, slowly.
Slowly and without a face. These are elements that an American Hollywood runaway train film would never tolerate. In America, in Hollywood, a filmmaker would have to click through to the suspense, then the struggle, then the resolution, the crash climax, and a kiss for a fade-out. The evil would have to show its face—Dennis Hopper is (factually) dead, but maybe Ted Levine will step in. A face is needed. A voice will not do.
I once saw a University Of Washington professor give a talk which mentioned Jim Carrey. The professor remarked about Carrey’s performance in The Cable Guy, that when evil finally ripped aside its mask, it turned out to be Daffy Duck. I knew what the professor meant, but I think the root of the matter’s closer to Stephen King’s It. Evil may take the form of Daffy Duck, but it needs some sort of relatable form to its victims, to its humans, to terrify them just the right amount. And because its ultimate form, being abstract, is not something humans can process. So, Daffy Duck is just another mask. Closer to the bone, but a mask.
So, Nooshin lets evil drift away from its body. It wants no body. It simply wants its body count.