Directed by Waylon Bacon
Starring Clinton Roper Elledge and Armen Babasoloukian
Short Film Review by Annie Vincent
An amusing, yet thoughtful short film, The Ride subtly and manipulatively examines one of the saddest truths of modern society.
The opening of the film introduces us to Greg (Roper Elledge), a young and apathetic youth who is late for the bus again and is going to be late for work. It's not that he's really keen to get to work at the tropical fish store; it's that if he isn't on time today, he will be fired. The next bus won't arrive for another half an hour and Greg is desperate enough to accept the offer of a 'ride' from an Italian man who appears at the bus stop behind him. But the Italian’s van is parked a fair walk away, he seems to live in the back of this van, is a little eccentric and is taking Greg on a route he doesn't recognise. Alarm bells start ringing. Something really is fishy, and it's not just the slogan on Greg's work t-shirt.
It's the little details like the slogan on Greg's t-shirt, like the 'Missing' posters, like the increasing number of questionable items in the back of the van, which plants those seeds of doubt so firmly in our minds, that we are manipulated throughout 'the ride' to expect the worst. You will watch this and want to scold Greg for being so reckless in accepting this lift from a stranger. You will tell yourself you'd never be this stupid, that all manner of horrors will occur, just as Greg himself begins to panic about these things. And then you will chide yourself for jumping to such an awful conclusion.
The camera work in this film is close and intense. Babasoloukian’s increasing intensity when he delivers his amusing dialogue is excellently paced and measured. The panic-fuelled predictions of Greg’s fate, hypothetical flash-forwards, are well worked into the narrative (though the moment the Italian points a gun at Greg is a little over-the-top and is probably the first moment we start to doubt our own predictions. However, I feel that is probably the director's intention).
Bacon's message comes through loud and clear at the end of The Ride and it really is powerful. The audience is forced to re-evaluate their own thought-processes and prejudices. Engaging and thoughtful, this is a great example of just how powerful film can be.