I believe I have a good sense for what a film-maker's intentions are for their film. And it's often based on that belief that I will judge a film. If I think they're trying to make an important film, but it comes across as preachy and pretentious, I won't like it. If they're simply trying to entertain, and they do that, despite some flaws in the film, I appreciate that. In the case of Drive Thru, I believe that first time writer/director duo Brendan Cowles & Shane Kuhn, were trying to make a cult-classic horror-comedy. Which they don't quite achieve, despite their best efforts. I give them points for trying, but have to subtract some for aiming too high their first time out.
Drive Thru is about a group of kids getting knocked off by a psycho fast food mascot, called Horny the Clown. They desperately want this guy to become the next Freddy Krueger. He never stops talking, constantly popping off one-liners while chasing his victims; some of them work, a lot of them don't. None of the kids are that memorable, most of them are terrible actors, their characters little more than cliche's from other horror films. The goody-two-shoes, virgin-girl is the hero, then there's her sexually frustrated boyfriend, their slutty friend, her boyfriend, and the goth-chick. The lead girl is particularly annoying, I don't think I bought more than a 10th of her lines. They needed a much stronger performance, someone with some charisma to carry the film, while the killer clown isn't in the scene.
The kids do the ultimate horror movie no-no and play with a Ouji Board in the beginning moments of the film. There are some other-worldly consequences, not in the traditional unleashing of, because he's already killed somebody at this point. They tie into the killer in a strange way, by acting a spiritual guide to who the killer is, which never seems convincing. If you've seen Nightmare on Elm Street, it's fairly obvious as to why the killer is doing what he's doing, yet the film treats it like some grand mystery.
Besides the kids there are a pair of cops on the case, one is a no-nonsense tough-girl, her partner is real jackass, constantly doing or saying the wrong thing. Actor Larry Joe Campbell, really over plays this guy, no one is this dumb, especially a detective. Lola Glaudini, who you may remember from her recurring role on The Sopranos, is the best actor in the film, unfortunately they don't give her enough to do, besides be annoyed by her partner and brood over the case. It might have worked better if she was more of a bad-ass. Morgan Spurlock, of Supersize Me fame, has an extended cameo as a fast food manager, and gets a few laughs, before being dispatched.
Make no mistake, Horny the Clown is the star of the film. They did a good job in creating his look; a devilish ceramic face, with a speaker-box for a mouth, and a leather jump-suit with flames on it. The film is the most fun when he's around, and I can easily see them cranking out a few sequels, simply for his involvement. Some of his kills are creative, I especially liked the bit where he chops a guy's head in half and his tongue starts wagging around. The microwave death is also a bit inspired, but doesn't fully work because of some bad special effects. He has that innate ability to be all places at once, and know exactly where his victims will run to, which grows tired and ruins any suspense. They spend too much time on developing his back-story, and the mystery surrounding it, when it's fairly obvious to who he is by anyone that enjoys horror films. Too many of his one-liners fall flat and quite a few of the deaths are sub-par, but ultimately he's a very memorable villain.
Despite all it's faults, this film will have devoted fans. Any film with over-the-top gore and comedy, with a killer clown in a psychedelic mask will gain attention somewhere. And that's what I liked about this film, but I think they were reachng for Evil Dead territory, when they don't quite have the talent to do so. Their shooting and editing style is trying to live on the edge, but it doesn't quite get there. They try to make the gore really unique and disgusting, but the effects aren't done well enough to make you completely buy them. They have their characters spouting off a lot of comic dialogue, but the actors don't have the chops to pull them off; so it becomes unintentionally lame, instead of intentionally cheesy. Maybe with a bit more time, money or skill, they could have created something special, it's not quite there. If you're a horror fan, it's worth giving it a shot. - Grade: C+
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