J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Slamdance ’19: The Drone


This nightmare could have come straight from Amazon. The smart house is definitely a complicating factor, but the drone is the real villain. Somehow, a serial killer has transferred his consciousness into the pesky flying device and he is up to his old nasty habits in Jordan Rubin’s The Drone (trailer here), which premiered during the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival.

Just when the cops have the predator known as “The Violator” cornered, a bolt of lightning and some mumbled binary code zaps him into his peeper drone. Next time we see it, Chris the idiot photographer finds it while he and his wife Rachel are moving into their new suburban smart home. It is like the drone was just waiting for them. Rachel has a bad feeling about it, right from the start, but Chris is like a kid with a new toy.

Of course, the Violator drone quickly learns all their pins and codes and also starts gaslighting the family dog. Rachel immediately suspects it is doing mischievous things on its own, but Chris pooh-poohs her concerns, until the drone frames him for the murder of their cougar neighbor, Corrine.

Frankly, The Drone is even more ridiculous than it sounds, even though Rubin and the cast play it scrupulously straight (in contrast to his absolutely brilliant Zombeavers). Cult genre star Alex Essoe maintains her dignity as Rachel, but John Brotherton’s portrayal of Chris will give viewers a headache from all the forehead slapping and face-palming he causes. However, Anita Briem is an absolute riot as the slightly forward Corrine and Rex Linn (from CSI Miami and dozens of other films and series) adds plenty of sly, down-home color as Baker, the private investigator.

There is a fair amount of humor in The Drone, but nothing like the delightfully over-the-top Zombeavers. It is entirely possible that Rubin and his co-screenwriters, Al & Jon Kaplan might consider this film to be a commentary on the dehumanizing implications of technology, on some deeper level, but it is really just a logic-challenged genre flick.

Rubin keeps the film moving along and the drone’s hacking and slashing should be credible enough for midnight movie fans. However, the third act twists are utterly laughable and Chris’s insensitivity and general dorkiness will alienate just about every woman in the audience and a good portion of the guys. However, if you loved Wes Craven’s Shocker (by far his silliest film) than this should be your cinematic catnip. Recommended for meathead horror fans, The Drone had its world premiere last night at Slamdance.

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