February 13, 2017 Drifter (Movie Review)
In the post-apocalyptic wasteland known as the American Southwest, all live in fear and survival is a special kind of hell. Get behind the wheel for a ninety-minute acid trip through the dirty desert: Drifter arrives care of Green Star Films on VOD on February 28, 2017.
Also known as Dead End in European markets, Director Chris von Hoffmann (writer: Vodka 7 2012, Fuel Junkie 2014) paints an abysmal portrait in this carnage-fest of lunacy, in which Miles and Dominic Pierce are brothers drifting through the desert as outlaws on a journey of revenge for their murdered father. Dom (Drew Harwood: The Days and Death of Huckleberry Finn 2013, Will You Just Hold Me & Tell Me Everything’s Gonna Be Alright? 2015) is the protective older brother to younger, ‘simpler’ Miles (Aria Emory: The Knockout Game 2014, Sleepless 2017).
As the pair race through the desert in their Pontiac Grand Am – with a massive gunshot wound in Miles’ palm, duct-taped for safe keeping – they stumble across a trio of would-be carjackers who are quickly dispensed with. Shortly thereafter, Dom nearly runs down a girl, stumbling and blood-soaked, through the middle of nowhere. “They killed them all,” she utters absently before the brothers leave her in the dust.
Next, it is a woeful welcoming to the trailer park/ghost town of Demyl. Here, the brothers encounter a cast of characters: from the kind-hearted Vijah (Monique Rosario: The Knockout Game 2014, If You’re Underwater 2015) to a ludicrous family of cannibals headed by the flaming red-haired, clownish Doyle (James McCabe: Murdrum 2009, Deer Head Valley 2011). It takes no time at all for the Brothers Pierce to learn that those who enter Demyl rarely leave intact.
Co-written by Director von Hoffmann and Lead Actor Emory, Drifter feels like a drug-induced, gritty fantasy that flies between a modern day Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and something that Quentin Tarantino would be proud to helm. To truly appreciate anything artistic about this film, however, one must first be able to stomach the carnage: blood, intestines, and a severed head for a table centerpiece.
Surprisingly, as categorically outlandish as Drifter is, the acting is good, sometimes excellent. Emory moves through the film with the most minimal of dialogue and is yet the main character and highly effective in his role. McCabe, who portrays the whack-a-doo Doyle, is completely convincing as the psychotic cult leader; he portrays his character as a live-action Jack-in-the-Box that is part Pee-Wee Herman with dashes of Bozo the Clown, David Koresh, and Jeffrey Dahmer. Bizarre, but impressive.
Artistically speaking, Drifter is intriguing. There is ample use of color distortion and editing throughout the film: from scenes that appear cross-processed – creating an eerie emphasis on the bloodbath – to eyes that are oversaturated and several scenes that bear an obvious retro desaturation. There is frequent experimentation with camera angles, as well. Often times, a character is presented from the ground upward – as though they are looming above us in judgement.
The overall impact is one of thought and premeditation: Drifter is a well-planned, well-conceived project, at least visually speaking. Drifter plays out like a live-action Comic: each scene a new page, processed and edited to evoke the appropriate mood. Equally intriguing is the use of sound tracks throughout the film: each scene is punctuated by a veritable plethora of noises, but never actual music – until the very end. Sound in this film is ominous, foreboding, and often outweighs any dialogue. The actual storyline for Drifter is, however, up for much debate.
Reportedly shot in (lucky) 13 days, Drifter has its ups and its downs. Viewers who require a resolution or an aha moment in their films, then this is not going to be the movie for them. It is just open-ended crazy like, well, 2010’s The Crazies, where there is nothing redemptive about any of this gore and carnage. From the very first moments of Drifter, the action and intensity are at a zenith, and this continues through this juggernaut of the grotesque and eccentric. For the artistic aspects of this otherwise very brutal and freakish film, CrypticRock gives Drifter 3 out of 5 stars.