Drive Thru (DVD)
Starring Leighton Meester, Nicholas D'Agosto, Melora Hardin, Lola Glaudini, Larry Joe Campbell, Morgan Spurlock
Directed by Brendan Cowles & Shane Kuhn
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
About a month ago I did a story about the upcoming DVD release of Drive Thru, a fast food-themed slasher flick that has been highly anticipated by many thanks to its great trailer showcasing strong production values and a wonderfully costumed killer. In the article I mentioned that, unfortunately, the movie (already released in parts of Europe) has thus far been greeted with many very negative reviews. A few days later, one of Drive Thru's directors fired off an e-mail to Dread Central thanking us for the plug and noting that not all of the word-of-mouth has been negative. This is true. You will find some glowing praise on IMDB and I suspect many non-discerning slasher movie fans will sing its praises to come. Now I can chime having seen it and, alas, must put myself strongly on the side of the haters. Drive Thru is quite simply an awful movie.
How awful? It's so awful that anyone that ever praises it should have their license to mock Uwe Boll revoked. Yeah, it's Boll bad. Things often feel like they're being made up as it goes along; aimless set pieces, often feeling like stuff is happening at random, occasionally falling into something that feels like a cohesive narrative. It's just not any damn good.
Good reviews? I'd love to drug test the people that actually enjoy this movie to know what substances they were on at the time. Hell, I'd like to drug test the filmmakers. I find it hard to believe this movie was made by people of sound mind. Given the number of drug references in the film, maybe they intended Drive Thru to be viewed through a pot-smoked lens. I was not on any drugs as I watched the movie but afterwards I certainly felt the need to take something for the headache it had given me.
To be fair, there are some positives. There's absolutely no denying that the film looks great. We're talking theatrical quality production values here. Kind of hard for me to rectify in my mind that the same guys who co-directed this movie with such professionalism from a technical standpoint also manufactured a screenplay that's every bit as bad as any you'd find in so many of the amateurish slasher flicks that litter DVD shelves these days.
There's also no denying that the film's villain has one of the coolest slasher identities to come along in a long time. You got this sinister clown mask designed to look like the clown-headed drive thru speaker of the fast food restaurant it's the mascot of, right down to having the holes of a drive thru speaker for the mouth and his voice even sounds distorted like a drive thru speaker when he speaks. From the neck down it looks like the killer's wearing some sort of space opera costume. Put it all together and you have a slasher that looks like a Killer Klown from Outer Space if it were the lead singer of KISS. Pretty cool looking if you ask me.
Credit is also due to lead actress Leighton Meester. She's a very pretty girl and a pretty good actress too - maybe too good since I found her character to be utterly detestable. I suppose making the lead heroine in a slasher flick an unpleasant, foul-mouthed, drug-taking, non-virginal, raging bitch on wheels could be considered bucking traditional slasher movie conventions.
And here in lies the beginnings of the film's problems. Every single character in this movie is irritating, obnoxious, loathsome, and/or unbelievably stupid. I found these people to be such wretched human beings that I didn't care if they lived or died; I just wanted them to go away. So unlikable are these dregs of humanity that I was wishing that instead of a homicidal maniac in a clown costume they were actually being stalked by Dr. Phil swinging a Singapore cane.
Speaking of loathsomely stupid, the dialogue, specifically the one-liners, is painfully bad. Much of the witless banter seems to have been written with the mindset that just being vulgar or coarse is funny in of itself. It's the kind of stuff that you'd expect to hear someone completely plastered out of their gourd spouting off in a room full of people and then laughing at their own joke while everyone else in the room stares at that person unamused and rather annoyed by the obnoxious twit who isn't anywhere near as funny as they think they are. Non-sequitors like "Fast food kills, fucker!" is what counts for clever here; or having a cop with the last name "Crockers" that everyone keeps pronouncing "Crackers." Laughing yet?
Having Super Size Me's Morgan Spurlock appearing in a fast food themed slasher flick sounds like a clever bit of stunt casting, huh? Not when you relegate him to doing his worst Eddie Deezan impression in a throwaway scene that plays like a bad skit from an old USA Network “Up All Night" stoner comedy. A commercial for the fast food joint spoofing Japanese monster movies was the only time I genuinely laughed at anything in all of Drive Thru and even it wasn't that funny.
Oh, yes, I've thus far neglected to spell out the plot. You see there's a bunch of obnoxious SoCal emo kids being hacked up by this demonic clown based on "Horny the Clown," the mascot of a local fast food joint called Hella-Burger. At first it seems the killings are completely random, but then wannabe rocker and all-around teenage bitch queen Mackenzie begins putting the pieces of the puzzle together, realizing that all the victims are children of her mom's friends from back when her mother was a teenager herself in the 1970's. Basically, it all boils down to a Freddy Krueger scenario - sins of the parents coming back to haunt them by having their teenage children murdered - played out in a woefully routine and rather poorly plotted slasher flick.
Thrash metal during stalk & kill scenes substitutes for suspense. Though the killings are gory, often you see the gruesome aftermath of the kills and not the actual kills, which are mostly of the gutting and decapitation variety with his big gothic-looking meat cleaver; a few spectacular yet still not anything you haven't seen before in better slasher flicks. Worst of all, the actual motivation for the killing spree and the man behind the mask isn't even delved into enough to make Horny a compelling slasher (as if the uber lame one-liners weren't bad enough) and definitely not effective enough to make you believe this person would return as a psychotic, knife-wielding, clown from hell.
Just like Freddy, Horny the Clown is a supernatural slasher and that entails the script's most mind-boggling failure. Horny keeps taunting Mackenzie with cryptic messages sent to her through a Ouija board, Magic 8 Ball, Etch-A-Sketch, and later another character will have Horny magically appear on their television screen to taunt them. There was even a scene that appeared to show Horny literally materializing out of thin air. Clearly, this killer is a phantasm of sorts. Never mind the fact that we never get any hints as to how or why the killer gained these demonic powers, I'd rather an explanation as to why is it that the undead killer seems to become all-too-human come the film's climax and even meets a demise that doesn't seem like it should have been all that fatal for what's supposed to be a demonic entity.
That ending is a triple decker crapburger, not only because of the undead killer dying a particularly human death, but also because of a befuddling "it's not over" plot twist to follow, which is then followed up with another "it's not over" plot twist of a more traditional slasher movie variety with a scene that felt both tacked on and really like a great big "screw you" from the filmmakers given how terrible the movie preceding it had been.
Then again, maybe I'm looking at this movie from entirely the wrong perspective. Maybe I should be complementing the filmmakers instead. Maybe they set out to make a truly terrible movie. Maybe it's all intentional. Even if that were the case, doesn't change the reality that even an intentionally bad movie should be enjoyable. Drive Thru left me with a bad taste in my mouth and a case of mental indigestion.
1 out of 5
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