Pass Thru (2016)

Neil Breen is back! Well, he’s been back for a while, but for some reason I kept putting off reviewing his fourth movie, following on from “Double Down”, “I Am Here….Now” and “Fateful Findings”. I actually thought, when looking it up online, that IMDB had got it wrong and had just used an old description. Here’s the summary of “I Am Here….Now”:

Disappointed by its creation, the almighty being that created Man arrives on Earth in a human form and interacts with various troubled, wicked and sinful people on his journey to Vegas.

And here’s the summary for “Pass Thru”:

A.I. , Artificial Intelligence from the distant future visits Earth to eliminate all humans who have been harmful to all humans worldwide.

He’s got a bee in his bonnet about something, that’s for sure. I hope you, dear reader, are already a fan of this completely unique filmmaker; but if not, please feel free to read my previous reviews of his work, or check out the YourMovieSucks and RedLetterMedia videos about him. And then let’s journey through the Breeniverse together.

Actually, before we start, this is the first Breen movie to use crowdfunding. Here’s a video from the campaign (which I missed, as it had expired before I discovered his work, I think).

Check out how many times he calls it a “legitimate feature film” and emphasises it isn’t a “midnight movie”. So when you watch it and discover he’s actually devolved as a filmmaker, it’s a little more surprising.

Okay, the plot. There are several strands to it, which…well, to say they come together is a bit of an overstatement, but they all interact with Breen towards the end. Sort of. I mean, they definitely don’t interact with each other. Anyway, we have a group of refugees, fleeing a mysterious unnamed country towards freedom and a better life; they’re split into genders by the people helping them across the border and imprisoned in dingy rooms. You might wonder why I didn’t say Mexicans, going to the USA, and that’s because the refugees are a multi-ethnic bunch, with most of them being caucasian, and the country they’re fleeing to is never named. Oh, Breen!

We also have three teenagers who are super interested in astronomy, and inspired by their crazy professor, who spends almost the entire movie in bed hooked up to a breathing apparatus, are looking for some mysterious event in the sky. This appears to be a red dot which makes several largely random appearances, or perhaps it’s a mysterious shadow which occasionally drifts over proceedings, or perhaps it’s both. Who knows?

There’s also the two women, a Mediterranean-looking lady (Amanda, played by Kathy Corpus) and her black niece (whose character was unnamed and uncredited, but she’s played by Chaize Macklin). They’re escaping the older woman’s abusive husband, and run into the same patch of desert scrubland as the refugees, but never meet them, although they do meet a mysterious filthy stranger, played by your friend and mine, Neil Breen.

He’s a junkie, living in a beyond-dilapidated teardrop-shaped trailer in the desert, and performs some service for the refugee handlers, for which he’s paid in heroin (although the service is, obviously as this is a Breen movie, never specified). One day, he…passes out? Dies? In the dirt next to his trailer after injecting, and the red light moves over him and makes a duplicate version of him stand up!

The duplicate is the AI we mentioned at the beginning, a presence that’s beamed itself back from the far future and has, for some reason, picked a filthy junkie as the human it wants to take the appearance of. One would think, if you’re into saving the world from itself, you’d get on with it right away, but he spends most of the first two-thirds of the movie sat in his trailer with the two women, or wandering round the desert, or sat on a rock next to a tiger. The tiger, which definitely isn’t a pasted-in effect, oh no, even the scenes where you can see snow in the background of the tiger shot when it’s supposed to be in the desert, is second-billed in the credits! Thanks, actors (most of whom he didn’t even bother to give names to)!

I’m getting ahead of myself, a little. The refugees are also used as drug mules, and there’s a scene where you know you’re definitely in Breen country, where two important things happen. First up, they get an oxy-acetylene torch to cut through the border fence, but rather than just lighting it and filming that for a few seconds, I have to assume no-one on set could figure out how to work it, or it had run out of fuel, so Breen put in a CGI flame effect on the end of the torch in post. What? But that’s not the best bit. The bad guys get the drugs, and begin to divide up the bags. “This one’s for the politicians, this one’s for the CEOs, this is for the stockbrokers, this bag’s for the bankers”…he’s got a point to make, and by god he’s going to make it as loudly and simply as possible.

Oh, and when he’s with the two women, he calls himself “Til”, which is spelled “Thgil”, a name he saw on a yogurt pot when Amanda asked him and he wasn’t prepared.

At about the 55 minute mark, Thgil suddenly gets bored of all this milling about in the desert with the pretty lady and her niece and decides to wipe out 300 million people. It’s a brave movie-maker who’ll use the slaughter of 4% of the world’s population as a thing he just casually drops in with half an hour left to go, but Breen is nothing if not brave. Of course, you know the people he wipes out – politicians, bankers, CEOs, evil men and women, reality show contestants, all that lot. The villains who have locked up the refugees are just beamed out of existence, with my favourite being the extremely shouty lady who runs operations. Her interaction with Thgil is perhaps the greatest scene in the entire history of motion pictures. It goes a little something like this:

“YOU ARE DONE!”

“NO, YOU ARE DONE!”

“DONE?”

“DONE!”

It takes a unique mind to write dialogue like that, and to perform it. The extremely shouty lady is, like everyone else, doing a passable impression of someone who’s never read out human words in their lives before now – special credit to the three teens, who are so bad…I keep using the word “worst” to describe people and things in this movie, but the word will cease to make sense if I just keep bombarding you with it. They really have to be seen to be believed, though; as do the TV news crew we keep cutting to as the world’s evil population keeps disappearing – they’re merely bottom 10 all time in the acting stakes. The only person who looks like they could appear in normal movies is Kathy Corpus, but…well, perhaps she’s wildly overacting to keep everyone else on the set company.

I understand what Breen is trying to do – you’d have to be a moose-headed moron to not get it. The entire last third of the movie is him hammering the point home, over and over again – he beams himself into the homes of several different big business / banker types, listens to their “haha we hate poor people” speeches, and then says “isn’t that wrong?” or variations thereof, for like ten minutes. Then, he appears in the TV news studio, kills all the newsreaders, and tells us what awful people we all are and how he’s perfect and we should all hate bankers or whatever. I mean, I agree, but unfortunately we aren’t all super-powerful beings from the future who can kill anyone we want without feeling the slightest twinge of remorse! It’s at this point he also criticises “political correctness”, which I’d be annoyed about if I thought he understood what it meant.

Like all my Breen reviews, I just want to recap every bonkers thing that happens, but I also want to leave stuff for you, dear reader, to discover and enjoy for yourselves. It’s so weird! You’ll have doens of questions of your own, like: Is there two of him? Did junkie real Breen survive?

If I had to guess, I’d say there are some scenes where he got all the actors to repeat the same lines, with the theory being he was going to pick the best use of that line to leave in the finished movie; but then he realised he was ten minutes short and just left all the different people saying the same thing in the finished product. In the time since “Fateful Findings”, he’s bought himself a drone with an HD camera on it, and there’s at least one other person in the crew with him to fly it round while he sits and looks pensive on a rock. So, he has a friend! That’s nice.

The editing is genuinely insane, though, and I wonder if he watched it after producing a rough cut. Take, for instance, the kids. They walk out into the desert, pass by a sluggish Breen on the ground (the real person?), then go back into their homes, then go and drag their professor off his deathbed, then go back to the desert, then just the three kids meet Breen (who they recognise instantly as an alien, not the bum they walked past half an hour before), then the kids and the professor go back home. Oh, and their phones are sometimes working and sometimes not. Why do it that way? Arrgh!

“It’s All The Dream Of A Dying Man”

This will be the title of my Neil Breen book. Three of Breen’s four movies could be argued to the revenge fantasies of a dying brain, as the Breen character is seen to “die” early in “Double Down”, “Fateful Findings” and “Pass Thru”. Is this what he’s intending? Or is he so thoroughly incompetent that I’m clutching at straws? It’s probably the second one.

Like I said before, this manages to be even worse than his last movie – although “Fateful Findings” is probably his masterpiece, so it’s to be expected. The plotlines that never come together, and have no real resolution; the acting that manages to be terrible, even compared to other bargain-basement Z-movies; the incredibly crude political message; the pitiful special effects; the ending which is the main character walking through an ocean of the corpses he caused, that we’re supposed to cheer on…it’s magnificent. And we fans get to appreciate the vest from “Double Down” making its third appearance in the Breeniverse.

I’ve had more fun watching Breen’s movies than almost any other “bad” filmmaker I can think of. He just keeps on trucking, and long may he continue, without ever trying to be in on his own joke.

Rating: thumbs up

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