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‘Drifter’ (review)

Written by Chris von Hoffmann, Aria Emory
Produced and Directed by Chris von Hoffmann
Starring Aria Emory, Drew Harwood,
Monique Rosario,
Anthony Ficco,
Rebecca Fraiser, James McCabe 


Two brothers flee from a crime scene and wind up hiding out in a really f’d-up, desolate town sparsely populated by psychotic weirdos.

So, shouldn’t the title be Drifters…?

Anyway, this one’s a toughie to review.  On the one hand, it’s bleak, cruel, nihilistic and unappealing.

On the other hand, it’s rather well-made, with strong direction and cinematography.

The set-up is intriguing if derivative.  The film opens with a robbery gone bad, and the younger brother, Miles, is shot through the hand.  The brothers soon make a quick getaway.

Yep, that’s right: a direct homage to—cough, ripoff of—From Dusk Till Dawn.

Drifter is even a fairly straightforward getaway film until the midway point when it becomes a horror film. (This is trumpeted in the film’s description on IMDB and nearly everywhere else, so it’s not really a spoiler).

It also, um, pays homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in some rather obvious ways.  This is hardly a terrible notion; both From Dusk Till Dawn and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are great movies. And the structure works to some extent.

There are some very well-crafted scenes amidst the mess. Director von Hoffmann does a fine job with (most of) his actors and certainly knows his way around a camera.

In fact, the film is, at times, directed within an inch of its life – and beyond. It definitely – and defiantly – screams MOVIE!!! for the entirety of its running time, and considering the lousy script, that’s a major plus.
Showy camerawork, editing and score (which is quite eclectic, using everything from synth to low bass to tolling bells) are the quality components here, but they’re in service of an uninteresting and frankly quite ugly tale.

It’s difficult to give a rat’s hindquarters about anyone here, with the possible exception of Monique Rosario as Vijah, yet the film’s treatment of her is rather off-putting to little effect.

I honestly think von Hoffmann has some interesting work ahead of him; he seems to have film in his blood and he’s certainly no slouch.

So if, like me, you’re interested in seeing a nascent talent strut his imperfect yet compelling stuff, by all means check out Drifter.

Just keep in mind that it’s unpleasant in the extreme and utterly pointless, except as a showcase for von Hoffmann and co. Here’s hoping the gang has a better match next time.

Drifter opens in select theaters today and will be available
on iTunes and On Demand on February 28th


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