DRIVEN

DRIVEN

(director: Glenn Payne; screenwriter: Casey Dillard; cinematographer: Michael Williams; editor: Glenn Payne; music: Matthew Steed; cast: Casey Dillard (Emerson Graham),  Richard Speight Jr  (Roger),  Jessica Harthcock (Nichole), Nicholas Roylance (Caleb), Andy Field  (Entity), Bill Luckett  (Mr. Lancaster), Leah Hudspeth (Heather), Samantha McLarty (Young Woman / Entity), Glenn Payne (Jim), Maddie Ludt (Jess); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Casey Dillard/Glenn Payne; Uncork’d Entertainment; 2019)

“Most enjoyable low-budget indie comedy that rides itself into a supernatural horror pic.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Glenn Payne (“Earthrise”/”High Tide”) directs this most enjoyable low-budget indie comedy that rides itself into a supernatural horror pic, even as the entire film is set inside a taxi. It’s well-written by the film’s star, Casey Dillard, as it makes due with its slight storyline by offering a keenly observed character study, some great dialogue and an economical telling of  its bumpy thrill ride story.

On most nights Emerson Graham (Casey Dillard) works as a taxi cab driver for the Ferry Company, which features an Uber-like service, while on some nights she works the clubs pursuing her ambition as a comedian. Her colorful passengers provide excellent material for her act, and being out at night riding around the town seems to fit her personality and take her mind off all her personal problems.

One night her fare is this very nervous guy, carrying a satchel and requesting to make multiple stops, who goes by the name of Roger (Richard Speight Jr.). The cabbie begins to sense that this mysterious guy, with no social graces, might be doing some foul deeds at each stop and starts having bad feelings about her weirdo passenger. When confronting him on his suspicious actions at each stop, she’s told about body-possessing demons who must be dealt with by someone like him, and that he’s trying to  break an ancient curse he inherited from his family over poorly translated spells and busted talismans. He goes on to say “Imagine being a passenger in your own body,” which strangely enough relates to how she feels about her life experience (trapped in a secondary job just to make ends meet, when she really wants to be a successful comedian). With that common bond they form an odd couple relationship, with no sexual interest just a curiosity she has about him being perceived as a demon hunter.

It’s that kind of a twisted horror pic, one that gives these two fascinating characters a chance to talk about their lives, their disappointments and expectations as they get to know each other better. All the while, the driver starts to put together why she’s so stymied and begins to feel confident she can get her act together and make a go of it in the real world by exorcising her inner demons. Meanwhile the single-minded and highly charged-up Roger knows exactly what he has to do and why he was put on this earth, and judiciously goes about his business.

It makes for a bizarre low-tech horror film, that is very funny and comes with the required quota of screams when our edgy bad boy meets each entity he must deal with. 

REVIEWED ON 5/7/2020  GRADE: B+

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