THE PASSING *** Wales 2015 Dir: Gareth Bryn. 89 mins
The feature directorial debut for TV director Gareth Bryn, this understated Welsh-language chiller initially follows a MISERY-style scenario, as mournful loner Stanley (Mark Lewis Jones) rescues a young couple from a ravine following a car accident and helps to nurse them back to health.
He claims to have no phone, he talks elegiacally about lost family members and seems to be harbouring dark secrets that mar his seemingly good intentions. Set against a bleakly beautiful backdrop of rainy Welsh landscapes, this three-handed slow-burn mood piece is a dark-tinged character drama rather than the subtle horror film its publicity would have you believe – though it does, at its own convenience, borrow genre tropes in a contrived fashion. For a while, there is a degree of tension, largely stemming from the subtly shifting stillness of Jones’ restrained performance. In the absence of any sympathetic characters, however, brooding menace is soon replaced with escalating tedium, and the more overwrought elements (including misplaced choral sections of the music score) jar with the overall approach. Particularly lame and random is the climactic detour into supernatural territory that suggests a producer helpfully suggested Bryn make the movie “a bit more M Night Shyamalan” late in the process.
Review by Steven West