August 20, 2018 The Ninth Passenger (Movie Review)
From the executive producer of It Follows comes The Ninth Passenger, where something has gone very fishy at sea for a group of eight individuals. Be warned – the new Horror-Thriller arrives to DVD on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, thanks to Lionsgate.
In Vancouver, two friends have just reunited for some catch-up time. Sassy law student Nicole (Cinta Laura Kiehl: After the Dark 2013, Target 2018) is leading the charge into the weekend, trying to force her cute but mousey friend Jess (Alexia Fast: Jack Reacher 2012, Manhattan series) out of her shell. While strolling along the waterfront, almost instantly, the girls meet a pair of college grads who are out on the town, looking for ladies: the talkative and outgoing Lance (Tom Maden: Make It or Break It 2012, Scream: The TV Series), and his more reserved, very rich friend Marty (David Hennessey: The Girl Who Invented Kissing 2017, In Like Flynn 2018).
Lance invites the ladies back to Marty’s yacht, L’Etrange, where they encounter Captain Malcolm (Corey Large: Loaded 2008, In Like Flynn 2018) trying to woo the beautiful Tina (Sabina Gadecki: Inside Amy Schumer series, Entourage 2015). Also onboard are Marty’s ex Christy (Veronica Dunne: Kickin’ It series, K.C. Undercover series) and dark and brooding mechanic Brady (Jesse Metcalfe: Desperate Housewives series, John Tucker Must Die 2006), who is doing some scheduled maintenance and tinkering with the engine.
When Marty decides to make a grand yet desperate romantic gesture, the group of eight will soon find themselves headed out to sea and, shortly thereafter, standing in the dark when the boat experiences a technical malfunction that cuts the electricity and the radio. Desperate to make contact with civilization, headed straight for a mysterious island, and quickly realizing that everyone onboard is not exactly who they appear to be, the group will have to make some important decisions if they want to get back to Vancouver alive. Of course, one should always be careful in the water: you never know what you might find!
Clocking in at 76 minutes in-length, The Ninth Passenger is a directorial debut for Corey Large, who previously produced 2008’s Loaded and 2014’s The November Man. The screenplay was written by Large along with Steve M. Albert (In Like Flynn 2018), and is based off the 1960 novel Swim Rat Swim by Jack Couffer. The film falls very generally into the Horror-Thriller genre, with definite nods to classics such as The Island of Dr. Moreau embedded deep into its bizarre yet entirely cliché script.
Here, there is a weak story within a story, one of an environmentally-unfriendly conglomerate who is leading the field in biotech research without a care for morality or, for that matter, humanity. Greedy and corrupt, the president of the business is, of course, Marty’s father. However, this is not exactly a tale of monstrous corporate greed, but rather, a kind of banal Thriller that plays out like a SyFy original flick, which is to say it is nothing special. The characters are largely all fairly flat cannon fodder, and the dialogue here is so low brow as to often be painful. In fact, in one scene, Tina muses that she may have seen something swimming in the water, and Malcolm’s attempted witty response is: “It’s the ocean, Tina, there’s a lot of things in it.” As if this was not enough, the audio is often canned and sounds patched in, creating several awkward scenes.
On the bright side, the ensemble cast do their best to rise above this entirely flawed production, with each individual giving a solid performance that never feels like a caricature or overly-dramatic and cheesy. Instead, they flounder to stay above water as best they can in this sinking ship, with Metcalfe (as Brady) and Fast (as Jess) leading the charge. Despite a ridiculously common and boring script, Metcalfe and Fast display an enthusiasm for their roles that does the entire film some justice, keeping it from going under entirely. In their supporting roles, Kiehl, Maden, Hennessey, Dunne, Gadecki, and Large do their best with what they are given, though many are largely tropes added to pad the total kill count.
In short, The Ninth Passenger is not some artfully done, intelligent dip into unique territory, but rather a low-brow Thriller of the most cliché degree. When you reach the point at which the “ninth passenger” is revealed, you will literally sigh, roll your eyes, and realize that this is 76 minutes of your life that you will never get back. Although, sure, it is not the worst thing out there, it is certainly not one of the best in any genre. Easily digestible though not entirely entertaining, CrypticRock give The Ninth Passenger 3 of 5 stars.