Thursday, December 7, 2023
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Pass Thru Review

Where would we be without Neil Breen? He is the cultural catalyst that, despite all odds, has pushed his way into a realm beyond cult figure. Not quite the popular artist, but never the man we must seek out in our time of need, for his permanent presence in film discourse is an inevitability, rather than a surprise. Graphic design is his passion, as is filmmaking. A gift to a generation, the one that keeps on giving. His takedown of capitalism and corruption is expected since that is what he always wishes to talk about. Confidence is key to such a process, but the limitations of his craft come from how he displays his message. Nonsensical is the closest explanation to what Pass Thru is.  

Sprawling landscapes repeat themselves. Watch as Thigl (Breen) picks up trash, walks about a desert, and strokes a tiger that isn’t really there. Breen’s misunderstanding of basic principles is fascinating. The power breaks on a group of teenager’s smartphones, and these same teens leave Thigl in a ditch, where he pretends to be dead. Like many of Breen’s other projects, there is no way of understanding what happens or why. Characters find broken pianos and buses and circles of rocks. They can make a difference, Breen says of these immigrants, as he disintegrates the bad guys in front of them. Phasing out of existence with effects similar to Windows Movie Maker tricks, Pass Thru has many blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments. That’s probably for the best. Eyes shut, power through.  

There is a level of laziness to Pass Thru not found in other Breenian conflicts. Recycled dialogue from scenes sandwiched together, interchanging husband or wife. Either way, the remarkably uninteresting character has lost their significant other and hates the politicians in “their country”. But even with those transgressions, Breen at least delivers encouraging, poetic dialogue. “We shall be one,” he gloats, and in the background, he staggers around, looking for nothing in particular. What are we looking for? Entertainment? Surely so. It is why we turn to Breen. It is what he has been put on this Earth to do, and in his own, spectacularly peculiar way, he is managing to do so with ease. Entertainment is not always linked with quality. Some of the worst films conjure up the same appeal and fascination as the finest pieces of art. 

“Don’t you even sneeze without asking,” threatens the terrorist troublemaker. What that means is anyone’s guess, but it is a moment of wonder. One of many for Pass Thru, which is packed to the gills with disease and dreck. Not as charming as Twisted Pair or intense as Fateful Findings, but still filled with moments of disconnected insanity. Why the tiger? Where does the immigration commentary go? What business does Breen have staggering around the desert like this? He hates the politicians, the bad people of this Earth. No wonder his wish is to make them disappear. Pass Thru allows him to cleanse the planet.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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