VFX Legion served as primary visual effects studio on The Passenger, the new hostage thriller helmed by directed by Carter Smith (Swallowed). It is one of a package of eight horror genre films developed and produced by Blumhouse exclusively for MGM+.
Written by Jack Stanley (Lou), the story focuses on two employees at a seedy burger joint – tightly wound Benson (Kyle Gallner/Smile) and timid, submissive Randy (Johnny Berchtold/Dog Gone), Benson snaps when the persistent bullying of Randy by fellow employees goes too far as they force him to eat a rancid burger. The protagonist gets a shotgun from his car, massacres the tormentors, and flees, taking Randy as his passenger/hostage on a violent rampage.
Legion created a variety of digital effects to achieve a spectacle of carnage with the intensity that the director envisioned for the gruesome scenes that play out in the restaurant and during the killing spree that follows. Digitally rendered muzzle flashes, bullet hits, blood splatters and other brutal imagery deliver high-impact visceral violence throughout the film.
One of the most challenging effects – tracking a long, continuous shot – achieved a perfect lock on camera moves in SynthEyes. The uninterrupted take heightens the ferocity of bloody slaughter of two employees in the pivotal scene.
The Passenger required invisible effects to help build dramatic tension. Artists also replaced objects in practical photography with computer-generated assets, digitally deleted elements captured by the camera, and augmenting footage shot at multiple locations, aligning the look of environments with the film’s storyline.
Legion, conceived as a fully remote global visual effects boutique with studios in Los Angeles and British Columbia, with a diverse international collective of talent, assembled a team custom-tailored to the needs of the film. VFX supervisor Blake Anderson headed up the production, strategically allocated creative resources, efficiently and cost-effectively producing over 60 high-quality shots for The Passenger. Anderson put together a core team of artists residing throughout British Columbia enabling the production to take advantage of the province’s significant tax rebates.
Burbank-based co-founder James David Hattin provided the creative direction, ensuring that the visual effects aligned with the director’s vision and delivered a cohesive and compelling cinematic experience. Legion directed the digital effects during the early planning stages of the film through production and post. Working closely with the Blumhouse’s team during preproduction, Hattin mapped out an approach to the dynamic sequences – streamlining workflow, maximizing the impact of the CGI, and ensuring that shots seamlessly integrate with practical footage.
Along with creating the effects for The Passenger, the company produced all the visual effects in two other thrillers for the Blumhouse/MGM+ eight-picture package, Unhuman (2020), and A House on the Bayou (2021).
Legion’s long history with Blumhouse began in 2013, the year the pioneering fully remote visual effects company opened its doors. Out of the gate Legion was brought on board by the award-winning production company to serve as the primary visual effects vendor for the first of 18+ films – including Black Phone, Unhuman, Black as Night, Bingo Hell, Black Box, Nocturnal, MA, Manor, Madres, Merry Christmas, The Keeping Hours, Lowriders, The Veil, Purge: Election Year, The Gift, Jem and the Holograms, Insidious: Chapter 3, and Stretch. The visual effects company, also called on to handle packages of complex shots on challenging deadlines, has lent its talents to a mix of Blumhouse films including, Sinister 2, Insidious: Chapter 3, Ouija, Amityville: The Awakening, and two installments from The Purge franchise.
Tools used to create the visual effects for The Passenger include Autodesk Maya, Redshift, SynthEyes, and the Foundry’s Nuke.
The Passenger premiered digitally on August 4. The Passenger is currently available to view digitally on streaming platforms.