If you’re not into the kind of movie that gets labeled “so bad it’s good”, you can probably stop reading right now. But if you are, then come, friend, and let me tell you about a little movie called The Drone…
…Between Zombeavers, Critters: A New Binge, and now The Drone, it might not be far off to refer to director Jordan Rubin as the Mel Brooks of horror. I wouldn’t say Rubin is on the same level as Brooks, no one is, but like Brooks, Rubin rarely offers films that take themselves seriously, often going for the lowest of low brow jokes and poking fun at the films that his work is homaging. But, as The Drone displays, these movies are always going to be hits or wide misses, and with a flick about a killer drone, whether or not you enjoy it really depends on how salty you like your junk food horror.
Directed by Rubin and written by Rubin and his usual writing team, Al and Jon Kaplan, The Drone follows a killer dubbed The Violator (Neil Sandilands), who is shot down by the cops, but not before shouting a bunch of binary code and transferring his soul into a drone. Binary code? What the 01001? Armed with a few cheap propellers and a great internet connection, the Violator Drone sets off to retrieve the one that got away, Rachel (Alex Essoe). How you ask? By framing her recent husband, Chris (John Brotherton) for murder, of course!
I mentioned that The Violator utters a bunch of binary code nonsense to pull a Charles Lee Ray and transport his soul, and if that’s not any clue, then let me make it clear that this Child’s Play meets Shocker crossing is full of the sort of tech puns/jokes that inspire either an eye-roll or gut churning laugh. There’s no in-between with the humor of The Drone. You’ll know pretty quickly if you’re into this latest offering from Rubin or not, between a killer muttering that he needs to call an Uber to get away from the cops, or one cop finding a dead girl in the guy’s lair and proclaiming, “looks like she swiped right on the wrong guy”.
But look, it’s not that this sort of groan-inducing dialogue doesn’t fit the movie. The Violator is a killer obsessed with his electronic toys, using drones to fly all over the city and snap perverted photos of potential victims. Understandably, tech is a significant theme in The Drone. Rachel and Chris have just moved into a new house run by an advanced security system (no way the drone uses that to its advantage later), and Chris himself is a free-spirited, tech loving photographer. Rachel, on the other hand, is not. You see, Rachel is still scarred by a past event where she was playing with a remote-control car and tragically ran another vehicle off the road, committing the first ever murder by remote control car...has this plot lost any of you yet?
The Drone isn’t the kind of movie that you watch for its captivating plot and relatable characters. Chris, Rachel, and the horny next door neighbor, Corrine (Anita Briem) aren’t all that interesting as people, and so The Drone flutters a bit as the audience spends the first hour watching while the possessed drone is taken in by the happy couple, peeps at Rachel in the shower, snaps topless photos of Corrine, and tries to plant it all on Chris, in-between scenes of looking at itself in the mirror as if longing for a human body. For such a short feature, The Drone takes a long time to get its propellers spinning, but once it does, the fun flies.
As someone familiar with Rubin’s work, it’s surprising how tame the first two-thirds of The Drone is, both in its humor and violence. Eventually though, the drone graduates from perverted peeping Tom-toy and somehow tapping into cars for a frantic drive around town, and suddenly lets the blood rain down. You’ve probably never seen an anal-droning before, and after The Drone, you might wish you hadn’t. Granted, this is all short lived, but it comes close to making the otherwise basic possessed-tech film worthwhile for those less than impressed by the inconsistently effective humor.
All throughout, The Drone hovers the line between dumb fun and just plain stupid, leaning towards the latter more so than not. I actually felt bad watching a talented actress like Essoe tussle with a cheap piece of plastic in unconvincing fashion. She and the rest of the cast are all doing their best, but even their performances can’t bring a sense of terror or genuine suspense to this silly movie. The Drone will likely go down as the dumbest movie of the year, but in this case, there’s no doubt the filmmaker’s intended that.
With The Drone, Rubin and his crew have made a film that calls back to the era of bad, direct to VHS horror movies with laughable premises and even worse dialogue. But if a flick so cheesy it could be a plate of cheap nachos is your kind of lazy afternoon snack (and I know it’s mine), then you could do worse than this pun-y flight through a cloud of laughing gas…or a pile of 01101, depending on which lens you’re using.
The Drone crashes into homes on VOD/DVD Oct 15th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
By Matt Konopka