The Movie Waffler First Look Review - NIGHT DRIVE | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - NIGHT DRIVE

night drive review
A rideshare driver is swept up in a night of adventure by his passenger.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Brad Baruh, Meghan Leon

Starring: AJ Bowen, Sophie Dalah, Scott Poythress, Nathan Owen

night drive poster

Forty-something rideshare driver Russell (AJ Bowen) is having a typical night on the job. Though it's Christmas time, so he’s being extra helpful to his customers, assisting with wreaths etc and generally being an all-round good bloke.

A job comes through on his phone and before he knows it, he is picking up a young woman called Charlotte (a winning Sophie Dalah) who immediately makes herself comfortable and questions his lack of snacks. He tells her he’s charming instead.

She asks him to break the rules and he does, for the money she slides across to him from the backseat.

night drive review

After taking Charlotte to the house of her ex to recover some property, they find themselves propping up a bar and discussing their disparate lives. He seems to be enjoying breaking the rules with her and jumps headlong into the adventures she offers.

Back on the road, it’s not long before they accidentally hit someone with the car, and then are thrown together for the rest of the night as they scramble to deal with the aftermath.

Three-quarters through, the film throws a curveball with Charlotte revealing she possesses something that allows her a certain amount of power, and though she uses it mischievously and childishly, Russell’s decision with regards to this smacks of unearned judgement and sanctimony. Nevertheless, it’s his choices that lead to the finale.

night drive review

This film wants to be a thriller/comedy/sci-fi and contorts itself into a pretzel to make it work.

It ends on a particularly sour note that didn’t sit right with me at all; there were some patriarchal undertones that bothered me.

Both leads are personable and naturalistic, bringing realism to each character.

I enjoyed the Christmas theme a lot. I’ve always delighted in dark festive stories and the juxtaposition of carols and violence has always struck me as delicious.

night drive review

The direction by Meghan Leon and Brad Baruh offers some nice city shots and an Edgar Wright vibe to the proceedings when it’s all gelling well and we are montaging. Unfortunately, though it strives for a breezy horror comedy, it doesn’t quite hit the mark and there’s something disconcertingly just-off about it. Though its runtime is a pleasing one hour and 20 minutes, it doesn’t make the most of that time. The ‘twist’ should have been introduced sooner because as it is it feels rushed and there isn’t enough time to explore the possibilities it ushers in; the characters should have been more likable, the Christmas theme more fully embraced and a few extra hijinks along the way wouldn’t have gone astray. The ideas are there and the acting is good, it has a slick professional look that belies its indie budget, and the locations are also put to good use for the most part; but it adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

Not a bad movie, but it didn’t quite work for me. I’ll catch the next ride.

Night Drive is in US cinemas and on VOD now. It will have its UK premiere at FrightFest on August 26th.

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