Is 'Passengers' Scary? That Depends On What You're Afraid Of

This has been a really good year for science fiction movies as blockbusters. Some of the most buzzed about films — the most critically acclaimed and the the biggest revenue earners — have been movies that grapple with advanced technologies and futuristic premises. These films have ranged from the the action-packed (Rogue One) to the thoughtful (Arrival) to the playful and fun (Ghostbusters). And there have even been those creepy ones that might give you nightmares, such as Morgan and 10 Cloverfield Lane. One of the final sci-fi entries of the year is Passengers, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The trailers are pretty mysterious, and much of the plot has been kept under wraps in interviews, which has surely left more skittish moviegoers wondering if Passengers is scary

The premise of the movie might make it hard to tell if Passengers is going to make you hide your eyes or jump out of your seat in the theater. In the film, Pratt's character Jim and Lawrence's character Aurora are two of more than 5,000 human passengers on a massive state-of-the-art space vessel that is traveling toward a new home on a new planet. The journey takes 120 years, so the passengers are all in a state of extended animation so that when the voyage is over, they'll wake up just as they were when they first entered the spacecraft. But Jim and Aurora end up awake on the ship, alone, with more than 90 years left in their journey and no way to get back to sleep.

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Now, despite the beautiful design of the ship and the ample entertainment opportunities afforded to Jim and Aurora, the concept of living out 90 years with just one other person on a spaceship until you die is, when you break it down, pretty scary. If you've got claustrophobia or, for example, you get antsy when you've got to stay home sick for a few days because you miss being out in society around people, then this movie is going to unsettle you for sure. Plus, it's pretty devastating to think about all the plans that Jim and Aurora had for their lives: careers, children, a whole life. And now they have to swap that out for a pretty scary form of lifelong stasis. 

Still, it's worth noting that these frightening concepts are mostly just that: concepts. So if you're most susceptible to things like jump scares, evil monsters, or being chased by murderers this type of conceptual, "that's a freaky idea" scariness won't bother you at all. Especially because the film definitely commits to a more playful and curious tone. I mean, there is even a burgeoning romance between the two stranded passengers and a pretty dapper android bartender played by a charming Michael Sheen. 

If you've watched the trailer, you know there's also a good bit of action and life-risking, so that's something to note as well. There's definitely moments of tense anticipation as the two main characters are put in some dire circumstances. But from my perspective, it's nothing more scary than your average action scene in a big blockbuster movie, and it's definitely nothing compared to the terrifying concept of being forced to live out the rest of your life and die all alone in a very shiny and utterly empty spaceship.

Images: Columbia Pictures

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