Drifter (Review)

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DRIFTER

THE SETUP

I was fortunate enough to be contacted by Joe Sherlock, Director of the new Horror film “Drifter”, in relation to another one of his films “Blood Creek Woodsman”. I bought that one recently for a very low price, including the shipping. He sent me the link to his brand new film and as sort of a thank you, I promised a review for it so here it is. The story centers around a small town and it’s infamous “Bloodhouse”, or as the realtor says “Bludhouse”. Local property manager Don (played by Richard Johnson), has the difficult task of finding a buyer for the appropriately named Bloodhouse. A place where several murders occurred years ago and making matters worse, three new bodies were recently discovered in the house. Don call’s in all the maintenance people to fix it up, he’ll do whatever it takes to maintain his comfortable living. With a mysterious and psychologically unstable drifter roaming the town, who knows what might happen when these workers stumble upon him trespassing. The film stars Michael Hegg, Bryn Kristi, Stephanie Lunceford, Bob Olin and Sonya Davis. Drifter was shot in Oregon, for an estimated budget of just $3,000, this is true do it yourself guerrilla style film making.

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THE GOOD

Let’s get straight into it shall we? The film’s initial setup is pretty simple. Drifter arrives in town, goes mad and starts to kill the townspeople’s workers in a similar fashion to that of the 80’s slasher “Madman”. Drifter clearly isn’t an original concept but don’t let that put you off, I’ve come to know what to expect from these types of films, people are making them because they themselves are fans of the genre. Sherlock’s shooting style is basic and steady, and it works. Majority of the scenes rely on still shots, and the actors faces are appropriately and consistently framed, for the most part anyway. It’s a practical way to execute a micro-budget film. We don’t need the crane shots, or dolly panning, or fancy techniques when you don’t have the expensive equipment. The audio was fairly decent as well, just a little inconsistent when changing between various locations. The synth orientated score was composed by filmmaker Steve Sessions, and it’s relatively effective. It reminded me a lot of the scores that accompanied badly, shot on video stuff from the 70’s and 80’s. The acting was mostly second-rate in this one, but you come to expect that with these independent films involving actors and actresses with little or no experience. I’m not saying that makes it okay you have to critique it accordingly, but it should be partially forgivable when you take everything else into account.

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Most of the performances and characters were sub-par for mine. The only believable performances were that of Bryn’s, Sonya’s and Bob’s. Susan (played by Bryn Kristi), is being paid by Don to do some painting at the Bloodhouse. I didn’t really buy that she had any painting experience (but that’s beside the point haha). Kristi is very pretty and I thought she delivered some decent dialogue, and overall played her part well, I only wish she had of featured more. Bob Olin does a solid job of playing our Drifter. Apart from showcasing facial expressions of the inner struggle he’s having with his psyche, he really doesn’t say anything, nor does he have much to do. Lastly, Sonya’s role in which I can’t describe without spoiling the plot, comes very much out of left field but none the less she’s up to the task. Kudos on many of the women that were willing to get naked. Including the plus size, but lovely Roxxy Mountains (appropriate name given her bust haha), as well as the more mature Stephanie Lunceford. Lastly I’ll just touch on the makeup and practical blood and gore effects which were well conceived. With the meager amount of money this crew had to work with, the gags and body count wasn’t too bad. Nothing was overly memorable but that was more down to funds and not lack of effort.

THE BAD

Drifter opens with a random and unrelated introduction involving a mock trailer (at least I think it was a mock), for another film called “Odd Noggins”. It was a very strange beginning, that then leads to the opening sequence of the film, where two girls and a guy enter The Bloodhouse about to start the lamest three person party in the history of the world (haha). A couple of beers later, the couple of the trio decide to get it on in front of their friend, who of course proceeds to just sit there drinking beer and gorking around the room. Surely at some point you’d be thinking this is a little weird, I mean each to their own but I doubt you would sit there as the third wheel in this awkward situation. Anyways we’ll come back to the content issues a bit later on (haha). Even though most of the shot choices worked, on several occasions the camera went in and out of focus for a short period of time. It was only really noticeable if you watch the background of those specific shots. Most of the lighting was sufficient but the scenes in the attic, as well as the basement in the final act were quite dark. It doesn’t give the audience the best view of what were some pretty decent makeup effects on display.

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Moreover, nearly all the editing and transitioning between scenes was either rushed, or the previous scene wasn’t important and just acted as extra filler. In several instances the story rolls back around to The Drifter, who seems to be taking an eternity to search the house and look for the best place to lay his head for the night. He’s revisited at least three or four times throughout the first half of the film, only one of which he’s actually seen killing someone. The rest of the time he’s either freaking out with his facial expressions, crying or acting spooked about something. This guy just spends a lot of time doing nothing, that would be okay if we had some narration or reference in understanding about his character but we don’t. He doesn’t appear to have any obvious motives for killing, Was he raised around violence? Is he suffering from post traumatic stress? Who knows. The film has its quota of poorly written dialogue too. It’s either irrelevant or about characters we haven’t even been properly introduced too yet. Nearly all of the secondary characters serve no real purpose in the film. I understand they need to introduce a few repair men and such so the Drifter has people to kill, but your audience isn’t going to care in the slightest about faces with a name if we don’t know how they fit into the story.

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I think when Richard Johnson was on camera, he was in some far away land off with the fairy’s, trying to channel William H Macy’s, Jerry Lundegaard from The Coen Brothers “Fargo” and it didn’t work at all. Bit’s of the mid-west accent were creeping in here and there (apologize if he’s from the Midwest and can’t shake it), the comedic timing was off and I just couldn’t picture anything else but that. His character was just one big stereotype and he wasn’t selling me on any of the reactions he attempted to pull off. I don’t like to hang the success of a film all on one person, after all film is a collaborative process and I’m sure some of the writing didn’t help, but he definitely didn’t do himself any favors here. The film had continuity issues a plenty when it came to the action sequences/choreography, Susan’s paint that wasn’t paint (I’m assuming custard or something, budget related I’m sure), and of course The sauna without any steam, the spa without any jets (haha), the list goes on but I think you get my point.

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This is Joe’s first time having something reviewed at Adamthemoviegod.com, and I appreciate him sharing “Drifter” with me. Clearly making a full length feature in any genre, on these kind of funds is difficult so keep that in mind. It’s clear Joe is striving for success and personal growth within the industry, you can’t ask for much more. Drifter sounded really cool and I was expecting something slightly different from what I got. There was some good and some bad, but remember it’s $3,000 and given that, I’ve seen a lot worse. Most of the technical aspects are competently executed, aside from a few things that just need some tweaking here and there. The music and sound effects were cool and Bryn’s performance and character thoroughly entertained me. The makeup and effects work given the budget was also quite solid, but I would have loved to see the kills. I can look past a lot of the continuity issues, the stuff I didn’t get to see and even some of the unnecessary characters. Unfortunately, any and all of the character development got left behind so nothing really had any context. Combine that with a comprehensively wooden performance from Johnson and the unresolved ending that hits you from out of left field, and I can’t say this one was a winner in my books. I’m still keen to watch and review Joe’s other film Blood Creek Woodsman when it arrives. I hope I haven’t discouraged anyone here I’m just trying to be open and honest, Sorry I couldn’t say anything more positive about this one!

My rating for “Drifter” is 4/10

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