Sunday, June 3, 2012

Horror Film Review

Drive Angry (2011):  I don't know what I was expecting with this Nic Cage vehicle (pun intended) but it sure wasn't this.  The recipe goes something like this:  take one 70s exploitation flick, add a pinch of Ghost Rider, a dash of Mad Max, and two drops of Terminator 2 then edit until it makes sense, and voila!  You might think I'm hinting that this movie doesn't know what it wants to be.  On the contrary.  I consider it a high-concept film with a really bad title that doesn't take itself at all seriously.  The result?  A hell of a lot of fun.

I'm going to try to explain the plot now.  Stay with me.  Milton (Cage) escapes from hell to rescue his baby granddaughter from psycho cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke channeling Billy Bob Thorton) who's fixin' to sacrifice her under a hanging tree outside of an abandoned prison in Louisiana at midnight during a full moon in order to unleash hell on earth.    Milton meets out of work waitress Piper (Amber Heard), rescues her from the stereotypical asshole boyfriend, and then they tear ass for the bayou in her 1969 matte-black Dodge Charger.  Hot on Milton's heels is The Accountant (William Fichtner), hell's own wise-cracking fugitive hunter who's sole purpose is to drag the escapee back to the pit.  Milton stole a gun from hell called the God-killer (I swear it's straight out of an old Wild Wild West episode) and is his only advantage against his determined pursuer.  Eventually, all end up at the hanging tree just before midnight for the climactic battle...which is Milton in a car versus a few dozen heavily armed cult members.  And then there's The Accountant to deal with as well.  Got all that?

Drive Angry is an unapologetic, fuel-injected, carnage-laden revenge tale that would have made Charles Bronson proud.  I know many folks will gripe about Cage's one-note acting style, the gratuitous nudity, and the legion of cliches.  They're missing the point of the movie, which is geared toward the 14 year-old boy in all of us.  Sure it's silly and over the top...that's the point!


Acting:  Ham and cheese all the way.  Except for David Morse as Milton's friend Webster.  Morse opted for an understated and powerful performance.  Too bad he's only on screen for a few minutes.
Story:  It's the classic man-escapes-from-hell-to-kill-the-guy-who-killed-his-daughter-and-wants-to-kill-his-granddaughter tale.  Almost Shakespearean. 
Direction:  Director Patrick Lussier makes the 104 minutes seem like 60.  That is to say, it definitely doesn't drag. 
Production Values:  It's got a $50 million budget so it's going to look good.  But it looks good in a slightly sleazy, Grindhouse way.  Not sure if it's the lighting or the film stock that does the trick. 
Gore/FX:  Plenty of inventive gore.  Even more inventive and impressive are some of the CGI gags used during the many, many shoot-outs.  The scenes of Milton driving in hell are very cool.
Scares:  It's not really that kind of film.  You won't care, though.
Ending:  Pretty Hollywood, but it definitely worked for me.
Verdict:  Should you see Drive Angry?  While not a traditional horror flick, as a mindless guilty pleasure, you can't do much better than this. 

Rating:  4 out of 5

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