Drifter spins the yarn of two brothers, criminals by trade, that are on the run. The dastardly duo head off through the desert where they are soon waylaid by a clan of cannibalistic psychos lead by their murderous Mayor. And that’s it. That is the entirety of this film’s plot. Now I know what you are thinking; isn’t this basically the plot of From Dusk Til Dawn, just swiping in the antagonists from The Hills Have Eyes and removing the vicious vampires (oh and there’s a lil’ The Texas Chainsaw Massacre thrown in the blender as well). Yes, yes it is…and I’m going to try and convince you that this film has some merit and should be viewed by those that want to have a “brain in park” style good time and don’t mind cinematic plagiarism (though if you enjoy the works of Tarantino and Rodriguez that should be absolutely zero problem).
Drifter exemplifies what I feel is an unavoidable occurrence in genre film making. The impact made by the two gentlemen listed above (and for the record I’m a huge fan of their work) is unavoidable for those that matured on a steady diet of their films (as I’m willing to bet the Writer/Director of this film, Chris Von Hoffmann did). I find the blatant swiping in this picture no more offensive than the near non-stop genre pastiche offered up by Quentin et.al., it’s just here there is a little less cleverness involved as at least Messers. T. and R. try and inject plenty of unique story points in among their references and call backs, where Hoffmann just sort of pieces things together in a greatest hits package…but like a collection of familiar songs, this offering too is enjoyable and rather entertaining as it hits all the killer with no filler.
That’s not to say this flick is just a useless rehashing. Drifter possesses and absolutely jaw dropping visual style and cinematic flair that makes it an incredible joy to watch. It’s really breathtaking what Hoffmann and company managed to pull off with a budget that is probably one tenth of the latest Hollywood flick, especially the shots of the sprawling desert vista as well as some downright psychedelic imagery.
To sum it up; Drifter is a fun but very familiar watch, with its saving grace being its top shelf visual style. I sincerely hope in his next outing, Director Hoffmann goes for something more uniquely his own rather than paying lip service to his fav flicks.