Night Drive


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Night Drive
"To go off road the way this film does, you really need to know your vehicle well." | Photo: Courtesy of FrightFest

Russell (AJ Bowen) used to be in computing. Now he works as a ride share driver, something which he usually finds relaxing, getting to meet all sorts of different, interesting people over the course of a night. But one night he meets Charlotte (Sophie Dalah). She’s a whole different category of passenger. She’s either sulking in silence or talking non-stop, and before long it becomes apparent that she’s up to her neck in something seriously dodgy. Russell faces the most dramatic night of his life, and one that will change everything he thought he knew – if he can survive until the morning.

How much do you feel you know about Russell and Charlotte from that description? When it comes to introducing people, cinema is full of tricks. These also influence the way we imagine that characters feel about each other. We can see that Charlotte irritates Russell – that some of her behaviour even scares him. But she’s young and impulsive, and can probably understand that. Will they be firm friends by morning? You never know. After all, cinema is always telling us that it only takes an hour and a half to fall head over heels in love.

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Night Drive, which screened as part of Frightfest 2021, is a film which starts out along a familiar road but makes use of every available short cut. Its eventual destination is quite different from what you might expect. There’s an abrupt handbrake turn towards the end that will thrust you forwards onto the edge of your seat, so as Margo Channing said, fasten your seatbelt: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

To go off road the way this film does, you really need to know your vehicle well. Co-directors Brad Baruh and Meghan Leon smoothly combine elements of thriller, buddy movie and film noir as the night gets darker. There are places where progress is a little slower than it needs to be and there’s a risk of momentum being lost, but for the most part the film purrs along nicely as Charlotte’s behaviour goes from charmingly carefree to something far more extreme, leaving Russell feeling that anything could happen.

Nothing will prepare you for the final shift of gears, which puts everything that has gone before in a different light. Baruh and Leon leave their viewers exploring unglimpsed possibilities and wondering how much they know.

Reviewed on: 04 Sep 2021
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Night Drive packshot
A ride share driver's life is turned upside down after an unexpected series of misfortunes.

Read more Night Drive reviews:

Andrew Robertson ****

Director: Brad Baruh, Meghan Leon

Writer: Meghan Leon

Starring: AJ Bowen, Sophie Dalah, Lamar Bell, Reba Buhr

Year: 2021

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: US

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