Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – 5th Passenger

My notes on the science fiction film 5th Passenger.


An ambitious, crowd-funded space opera – with a supporting cast who mostly have iterations of the Star Trek franchise on their CV – this plays some interesting games which owe more to recently-busy horror sub-genres, and even uses a science fiction gimmick to deliver a found footage scenario with an unreliable viewpoint.  It also stands as one of the first s-f films of the ‘teens to take account of the actual state of the union, with a future where ‘citizens’ are a privileged category and everyone else gets treated appallingly.


On a ship en route to an Earth colony, non-citizen navigator Eve Miller (Morgan Lariah) is scorned as a ‘roach’ by citizen dignitaries.  When a high-handed bigshot (Doug Jones) refuses to let her take manual control from an AI as the ship is entering a meteor swarm, disaster inevitably ensues … and, in the panic, Eve ends up with four other folk in an escape pod supposedly reserved for the elite.  Arrogant shit Franklin (Tim Russ) keeps asking bigoted idiot Li (David Lim) for his important opinion on technical and survival matters Eve is much more qualified to rule on … and there’s plenty of snit left over for the pother non-citizen crew members who have barged in … Thompson (Manu Intiraymi), father of the unborn baby she hasn’t told him about, and medic Myers (Armin Shimerman), who knows something about her medical history she wants kept quiet.  In a frame story, a doctor (Marina Sirtis) reviews the recorded memory of Eve, who seems to be the sole survivor of the quintet … and we get several possible versions of what happened while they were drifting in space, including a rampage by the sort of clawed, fanged rogue rubber bioweapon familiar from the Alien knock-offs of the early 1980s, which sticks so closely to cliché that it’s pretty much a certainty that something else is going on under the blood-spurting-body-count/crawling-through-creature-infested-tunnels business.


Lariah, who co-wrote with David Henri Martin and director Scotty Baker, gives herself the plum role, and perhaps piles on the agony too much – as Eve has to cope with psycho peril, pregnancy and prejudice all at the same time – but registers strongly.  Even the fact that the other passengers are stereotypes plays to the notion that Eve is remembering things as more simple than they are – though the characters seen in the frame story are pretty much on a par with the main disposables.  It’s among a run of recent spacefaring films to take advantage of the fact that effects which would once have been the province of a big studio spectacle are now achievable via tech as easy to get hold of as a phone app, so the EVA shots have a reasonable grandeur – even if the bulk of the film is set in a single, padded, gadgeted-up set more reminiscent of the rocket interiors from It! The Terror From Beyond Space than the craft seen in the Alien, Star Trek or Star Wars franchises.  It’s awkward and strident sometimes, but its anger at casually cruel treatment of the underclass is refreshingly blunt and to the point.


Here’s a trailer.


One thought on “Film review – 5th Passenger

  1. So do I understand you right you thought it to be a cheesey cliche movie with expected outcomes out of the eighties? You didn’t say thumbs up or down. It looks like you didn’t like it. Or am I mis reading you comments.

    Posted by Gordon Baker | July 14, 2018, 5:59 am

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