Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to October Coast PR and Traveling Dog Films for allowing me early access to an online screener of the Drama/Thriller film “Scooter”, Written and Directed by Matthew Wohl. Scooter presents as found footage and revolves around popular Miami YouTubers, “The Three Amigos” as they travel 800+ miles across the country on 50cc scooters as part of a group challenge. Will, the self-proclaimed leader of the trio (played by Joshua Zimmerman) eventually clashes with Paul (Dondre Tuck) after an error in judgment at a mermaid park, and Juan (first timer Stephan Pineda) finds himself playing devil’s advocate. Things only get worse for them on the first night when they witness a violent crime. The film also stars Mitch Lemos, Rachel Comeau, and Brett P. Carson.
Scooter is a mostly POV (point of view) style chronicle of events and it’s one that comes with the same cliche disclaimers and redacted cuts we’ve come to expect from footage in the found footage sub-genre. This is Wohl’s first full-length feature and he does his best to present us with semi-interesting characters who have outgoing personalities and adventurous drive. The pacing is generally quite good, the audio consistently clear, and the camera footage made up of a nice assortment of angles. The shots are mostly steady, and the addition of some drone footage elevates what could’ve otherwise been a fairly average production value. The history within the dynamics of the Three Amigos feels natural, and each of the performances is decent irrespective of two out of the three actors having had no previous experience. There’s a cliff notes introduction to the Millenials and their social media accomplishments thus far, helping you in a quick get to you know type phase. From there, the film has a few funny moments, namely the banter and scenes of the guys racing each other on mini tricycle’s. When things go up a gear (pardon the pun) though, Scooter feels like it’s lacking in intensity.
The camera does get a little bouncy in the third act, which given what transpires, shouldn’t come as any great surprise. The trio is supposedly heading cross country but you can tell quite clearly that the whole thing takes place in Florida (though it sort of fits the timeline). I really couldn’t get into Ray Fernandez’s erroneous score which consists of what mostly sounds like bad and repetitive “hold music”. The drama kind of hinges on the bond between the three guys and unfortunately the interpersonal stuff is rather threadlike and forgettable. There’s a significant feud that develops between Paul and Will over Will’s impromptu sexual interlude with a mermaid park employee. I didn’t really think it warranted such commotion. That particular absurdity only further highlighted after the group’s unfazed reaction to actually seeing something truly concerning. The crime portion of the film could’ve been better and more suspensefully handled instead of the rushed bumbling reveal that ultimately materializes. Surely once you’ve seen something violent take place you’d get the hell out of there? Even if it was night and it meant leaving some of your belongings behind, after all, it’s a matter of life and death. On the surface, things appear as though they’re on the upturn once the Sheriff enters the fold. However, Lemos’s interpretation of the figurehead isn’t so much the strong and silent type I’d hoped would impact in a more subtle way, but rather the overtly motor-mouthed townie with a small mind and plans to rid the place of the lowest common denominator. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t just shoot the drone down if he was worried about evidence? I was longing for some much-needed desperation from the Amigos amidst the climax, but I think some indecisive writing and raw acting stifled the likelihood of that component – that was a bit of a shame.
Scooter is a solid debut feature-length film from Matthew Wohl. With an adequate premise, serviceable technical aspects, and mindful pacing of which unfolds in a swift 72-minute runtime, it reminded me a little of another micro-budget film called “Shades” *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/shades-review/. Scooter is never boring and the actors do a fine job, it’s just a pity the writing lacks conviction and Matthew’s design of the antagonist wasn’t as compelling as it could’ve been. The music doesn’t do anything for the suspense of the piece and the emotional stakes don’t ever really hit the necessary beats to parallel when the going gets tough. Stilll, if you’re looking for a road trip film outside the parameters of a teen comedy or coming of age flick, I think Scooter’s certainly worth a look. Especially for those interested in independent filmmaking. You can check out the official trailer below! The film will be available in select theaters through September and October so stay tuned.
Scooter – 5.5/10