Midlands Movies Review - The Drift
By midlandsmovies, Dec 8 2014 06:59PM
The Drift (2014) Dir. Darren Scales
Backyard Productions UK
“A century from now in deep space, the discovery of starlight crystals enables travel beyond the speed of light. Very soon, mankind is living among the stars”
The above opening crawl is interrupted by an explosion then glimpses of chaotic scenes as these crystals begin to fail and spaceships are left marooned in the galaxy. This is the intro to The Drift, a local feature length production that has ambition stamped all over it.
We follow this with an Alien-esque awakening, as a crew of intergalactic explorers are roused from their sleep to find themselves on their ship Deliverance which is salvaging from the scores of abandoned vessels now dotted around space caused by this mysterious “Dark Wave”.
This simple set up is the back-story for The Drift and the film doesn’t mess about, going straight for an epic scale with some impressive CGI that, despite its budget, helps sell the belief they are really out there in the universe. From the Gravity-like spinning to the dark corridors of Event Horizon, it shows huge aspiration and delivers on its grand set up.
“This drift is a graveyard” says the Captain as the crew begin their reconnaissance mission, which has suitable tension as they creep through uncharted ships. This reviewer would have preferred slightly less CGI in parts to allow for some more character interaction. This would have also helped balance both elements better as although peoples’ pasts were hinted upon, 25 minutes in I didn’t really know one character’s motivations from another. As I wanted to focus on those exploring the ship we would get another establishing CGI shot. Therefore to fill in these gaps there is a fair amount of exposition in dialogue which was a bit heavy handed and therefore more difficult for the actors to deliver.
However, this is a minor flaw in a polished product as the film continues pursuing its high goals, enjoying as I did the style of the screens when systems were rebooted and the astronauts re-acquainting with each other around the confines of their space home. The filmmakers use a hand held camera for the most part (although not “shaky” cam) which helps sell the claustrophobic atmosphere within the craft.
With talk of this “Dark Wave”, they then arrive on one seemingly derelict vessel but an unknown entity on board results in further power loss and once the crew enter the abandoned ship, the subsequent eerie noises and explosions create a sense of dread as things go from bad to worse.
The influences on The Drift are from a range of sci-fi classics (cameras on heads and a corporation called “The Ministry” are pulling some evil strings) but some new ideas are thrown in as a characters attempt to access computer records and black boxes to find out what has happened. Yet, the action really hots up once we come across a zombie-like infected crew which ensures a fair amount of chaos before a splatter-fest of blood and gore. The movie has some good pacing which also helped the audience focus on the main characters such as Ace (an entertaining Vin Hawke) who seemed to be channelling every inch of Karl Urban he can muster and Scarlet (Victoria Hopkins) a female on board with conflicting interests.
They eventually find a survivor (Astra) who uncovers herself from hiding but like most things, all isn’t what it seems. This leads to the some genuinely jumpy moments and I liked the fist fights between infected assailants and the crew which took place in smoky compartments that helped maintain the action levels.
The movie kicks up a gear once the secrets start being uncovered and a chain of events build to an exciting climax. One to definitely keep an eye on is actor David Dobson playing crew member ‘Geek’ who was all smarm, sarcasm and immediately tagged by me as cannon fodder but helped maintain some humanity in the film.
Finally, with shots from outside the ship combining with interiors The Drift continued with its larger scale than your average local movie and an orchestral score complimented the well designed ship set. Production values are one of the film’s high points with everything from monitors to jump seats all seemingly authentic and as good as anything you can see in theatrical releases.
As the effort by all involved was clear to see, multiple techniques were used such as spotlights and strobes which gave the murky corridors a realistic sense of foreboding with audiences unsure what could be around each turn. And with that, you can’t ask for any more of a film which delves into the inner turmoil of outer space.
Midlands Movies Mike