The Films That Influenced Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez's ‘The Passenger’

THE PASSENGER is in theaters now, and will be available On Demand and DVD on June 28, 2022

In The Passenger:

A group of strangers sharing a ride have their trip interrupted when the driver hits a woman hiking in the dark of night. They decide to help her, but quickly learn that something is wrong and that they shouldn’t have let her in at all. 

The film starts from a shared vehicle as a narrative microcosm; a place where the characters have to live together for a long journey. The relationships between them will become crucial when they face their survival. We wanted to play with cinematic language and make a movie where something as small as a van would lead to something much bigger. By creating an intense suspense atmosphere and growing the relationship between the protagonists, we have built a terrifying adventure of characters who do not know each other and learn how to understand each other united by an unsustainable situation. The challenge of filming in a single-vehicle generates a creative experience where suggestion and off-field prevail in the narrative to stimulate and disturb the imagination of the viewer. We have narrated it in a light but firm tone, and always respecting the genre, our premise is that the viewer at no time loses the fun; that, after knowing each character, they suffer an amazing experience... in the dark interior of a van, Anyone can fall into the hands of THE PASSENGER. All wrapped in a structure of suspense based on extensive tension sequences that will make the public have a good time feeling afraid". A film with so much desire to the party started from previous parties that we had enjoyed:

Check out the full list on Horrorville here.

What we enjoy most about Raimi is that desire to make everything so meat, so organic and so extremely physical, a challenge in times where VFX are so fashionable, most of the time at any price. The movie is full of VFX but they are impossible or supportive, so we told the team and we were clear: this movie has to have Raimi as a reference and several creative concepts that start directly from the evil faces of the Uncle Sam movie. The fact of playing narratively with the explosions of meat, the deformed physical faces or the sluggish madness has as a maximum reference to Evil Dead when the function bursts, although The Passenger is a more contained film and much more focused on the characters and their description, without leaving the icon but very focused on their experience and their past and future to which that van takes you.
This title is one of our favorites and is not well known in Spain, despite the cult. What we loved about it is the unique enemy manifested in different bodies and the ability to terrorize previous loved ones who knew him. Gestures like that of the tongue to recognize him is something that we have taken into account with The Passenger, not so much with the tongue as with other common gestures and constants where you can identify the enemy, although The Passenger is much more graphic but does not abandon the idea of possessed loved one. All this on top is very valid by the COVID, which gave another dimension to the film (although this was ahead of its time and only has a wink in the form of a mask with the flag of Spain de Blasco, with a more standardized virus with which it coexists).
If something fascinates us about Signals is the fact of doing an alien invasion working a lot on the outskirts and the point of view of a closed space. Focus on a family to tell a wild epic. When this is done so well you do not need fireworks, but interesting formal choices so that you are immersed in history and do not need more. In The Passenger, we exchanged house for van and family for unknown passengers and played a lot with outskirts supported by sound and the exemption of large fireworks focusing more on the characters, constant on the other hand very present in the cinema of Shyamalan we love (in fact, Raúl is the author of the only cooperative book about the director in the world. Come on, we worship him, hahaha).
The truth is that THE THING is a film that is always present in everything we shoot and will shoot, even if it is a nineteenth-century drama, hahahaha, but here it had special influence by its thematic kinship. The fact that the creature contaminates, clone (although here you do notice by the deformities), comes from space, creates doubts among the protagonists (there is a sequence where Marta does not directly trust Blasco, although the creature only possesses women) and also has physical explosions that deforms the bodies, we are related in many things to the work of Carpenter, which on the other hand is a strong influence on us.
From this masterpiece of Berlanga we are passionate about his sequenced shots where the characters open their soul (in The Passenger there is a very complex seven minutes with this policy), the daily life of their situations, the closeness of their way of being, their tragicomedy implicit in all their chores although, really, that is something common in the cinema of Luis García that is present in our film. The mixture of his films with those of Carpenter or Cronenberg stimulated us a lot and it was a challenge of tone that we have managed to balance after a lot of work.
Cronenberg’s cinema has also been present in all the meat manifestations of the film. The New Meat is something that we adore and the forms of expression of this author interested us a lot, especially in The Brood and Videodrome. All this always playing with the containment and, again, thinking more about the characters than in the action for the action, which we love but we usually like more when it works in a whole.
We are very lovers of El Día de la Bestia and the cinema of Álex because it very well combines all the Spanish tradition with terror and fantasy, providing great moments of fun and social radiography. That interested us a lot in The Passenger and the counterpoint of the pasodobles in a context of terror was something that we had clear since the script of the film and has provided us with the moments that most stimulate us of our work.
This masterpiece of Spielberg so eager to narrate on the road tells us of a danger in the back of the car, and The Passenger talks all the time about this, a monster and a past that chases the characters, which also happened with the weak character of the protagonist. In our film the past of each character is very complex and chases them and the truck of our film is the bug that owns women. We were very interested in Spielberg’s rhythm and narration in this film.
The invisible creature until it arises with violence, the drool that arises from each pore of the skin (we called our van the Spanish NOSTROMO), women in danger because the bug focuses on them, the sound effects playing to alter tension, the game of visual composition and, again, the terrifying off-field. Scott’s masterpiece certainly influenced us a lot for our film.
Undoubtedly, this work of the enemy that does not stop, rain or thunder, is another of our influences to the point of honoring it in a plane where the creature chases the car and uses that to stimulate our artistic team. We loved the idea of an invincible threat, because that makes us terrified of our characters and the idea that they will never escape makes tension never stop. We also really like the use of electronic music in Terminator and it was one of the inspirations of Alejandro Román.
Another of our latent influences is playing with the idea of cloning or possessing the enemy until you take over our entire being. In our film the idea goes of possessed women killing men, playing with the cultural clash of Blasco with women and, if you do not seek a political reading as you wanted in that, in The Passenger does want to reflect on feminism.
The Passenger has many influences, mostly formal and closely related to our love of cinematographic language and the forms of expression we most admire. Authors such as Roman Polanski, Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Scorsese and Hitchcock have a place in our eternal imprint, very visible in The Passenger.
Thanks for the space!
Raúl Cerezo (Instagram, Twitter) and Fernando González (Instagram, Twitter)

RAUL CEREZO: Director, producer and screenwriter. Madrid, 1976. Founder of the genre film production company "Eye Slice Pictures", alongside Helion Ramalho. Raúl Cerezo is a key and recognized figure in the world of short film and Spanish horror. Cerezo has produced more than a hundred works and directed emblematic titles such as "8", winner of Melies D'argent and Paul Naschyawards at the Sitges Film Festival, among many other recognitions. His first feature comes with "La Pasajera", a film that will have its premiere at the Sitges Film Festival after passing through the "Fantastic 7"in Cannes. Cerezo has codirected with Fernando González Gómez and he is also the creator of the original idea and co-producer. Furthermore, Cerezo has already shot and co-written his second feature film, "Viejos", also in co-direction with Fernando González Gómez

FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: Director and screenwriter. Madrid, 1984. Trained as an aeronautical engineer, he founded Fanda Films in 2004 together with producer Niko Verona with whom he has made more than thirty short films. Having worked in comedy, thrillers, social film and documentaries, he has been able to explore a wide variety of narratives and characters. Fanda Films productions have been shown at hundreds of festivals, receiving dozens of national and international awards. Sharp and agile dialogues, extreme characters and strange and dystopian atmospheres, characterize the work of this prolific Spanish filmmaker. Highlighting his 3 nominations for Melie d'argent and his candidacy for the Goya for best fiction short film. As for feature films, he has written and directed 'Standard', winner of the Vanguard Comedy Award at the prestigious Austin film festival. And he co-directs with Raul Cerezo ‘La Pasajera’ for the upcoming premiere at the Sitges Film Festival and ‘Viejos’, which will be released in 2022