Director/Screenplay – Edward Anderson, Producers – Mark Donadio, Allan Jones, Todd Lemley, Michael Pierce & Mark Williams, Photography – Michael Fimognari, Music – Henning Lohner, Special Effects Supervisor – Brian Ricci, Production Design – Dr. Roger Danchik. Production Company – Pierce-Williams Entertainment/Moody Street Pictures/Future Films/Fourth Wall Productions.
Tony Curran (Driver), Peyton List (Melanie Morgan), Cameron Goodman (Jules), Cullen Douglas (Andy), Dave Power (Matt), James Snyder (Seth)
Best friends Mel and Jules return to the US from Mexico on what was to be a final fling before Mel’s wedding. At the airport, Mel confesses that she has split up with her fiance. Matt and Seth, two guys also arriving at the airport, take an interest in the girls. The guys suggest they take a shuttle back in to the city together. The shuttle driver starts off but takes a diversion through a disreputable part of town, only to have an accident. In trying to help change the tire, Seth’s fingers are sliced off by the tire rim when the weight of the vehicle comes down on them. In the panic, the driver pulls a gun and takes all of them prisoner. The four of them, along with Andy, a frightened family man wanting to get home, comply and try to find a way to turn things to their advantage. However, the driver warns that any attempt to escape will be met with violent reprisals.
The Conceptual Containment Thriller is a term I devised to label a series of films that began in the early 2000s that set out to see how small a space they are able to contain the action in for the length of the running time. The film that sparked this off was Phone Booth (2002), a psycho-thriller that trapped its protagonist inside a telephone booth for the duration.
We saw a number of other Conceptual Containment Films over the next few years – Black Water (2007), which took place with the protagonists trapped in a tree by a crocodile; Wind Chill (2007), a ghost story that took place inside the front seat of a car; Buried (2010), which was set entirely around Ryan Reynolds inside a coffin; Frozen (2010) with three characters trapped in mid-air aboard a ski chairlift; The Night Chronicles 1: Devil (2010) with characters trapped in an elevator with The Devil; ATM (2012) with three people trapped in an ATM booth by a killer; both Detour (2013) and Curve (2015) with characters trapped in an SUV; Landmine Goes Click (2015) with a character trapped standing on a landmine; The Shallows (2016) in which Blake Lively is stranded on a rock by the tide and menaced by a lurking shark; 200 Degrees (2017) in which Eric Balfour is trapped inside a heat kiln; Serpent (2017) with a couple trapped in a tent with a deadly snake; Oxygen (2021) with a woman trapped inside a cryogenic capsule; and Shut In (2022) with a woman locked in a pantry by her abusive ex. (For a greater overview of the genre see Imprisonment Thrillers).
Shuttle would seem to be another of the thrillers in this category. The film has been premised around the idea of keeping the action contained inside a shuttle bus for the duration. Certainly, the film is not as strict about keeping the action inside the bus as some of the abovementioned films are – there are diversions off to a supermarket and the last quarter of the film abandons the shuttle bus for a warehouse.
From about the point of the rather nasty scene where Dave Power is changing the tire and gets his fingers snipped off by the wheel rim when the weight of the bus comes down on them, followed by Tony Curran taking them all prisoner, Edward Anderson propels the film through a series of twists. As with many of these thrillers, the tensions throughout all come in the hopes that are raised and then dashed for the party being able to escape.
Debuting director Edward Anderson does okay with these scenes. I have seen enough of the aforementioned films that I felt there was no new ground being trod. There were twists, turns and unexpected reversals but I never felt there was anything here that particularly kept me on the edge of the seat – or jolted me out of it for that matter.
The other major point I would raise is that the entire show falls apart in terms of reverse logic. Consider the set-up of the scheme [PLOT SPOILERS] that involves Tony Curran using an airport shuttle service in order to abduct girls to crate them up and send them off into white slavery in Asia. Surely police would notice that a number of people who were seen to be catching the shuttle back home were going missing? It would be fairly easy to keep track of these matters – most shuttle operators are required to be registered and Curran could hardly just turn up at random to pick people up and thus would be fairly easily able to be tracked.
He also seems somewhat amateurish about his operation. Given the number of girls that have already been abducted, surely he would have had the process down to a well-oiled system by now and not be sidetracked by risky things like demanding they get out and go into ATMs for petty cash or supermarkets to pick up items? A large part of his scheme also seems to be his having another partner hidden along with the abducted party for reasons that are not entirely clear other than to provide a big mid-film twist. It does seem a very improbable means to run a white slavery operation – you cannot help but think there must be ways to do it that are filled with a good deal less in the way of problems.