The Drone


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Drone
"Although the film is played straight, there's a soap opera style edge of camp to it which mitigates against anyone taking it too seriously."

Back in 1980, Stanley Donen's disastrous Saturn 3 saw Farrah Fawcett chased around a space station by a robot with the brain of a madman. Almost 40 years later, Zombeavers director Jordan Rubin has updated the possessed robot stalker theme to present The Drone. This little flying bundle of mischief - which proves more dangerous than you might expect - is shown, in the opening scenes, stalking women on behalf of serial killer the Violator (Neil Sandilands), who manages to download his personality into it before being killed by the police. Next thing we know, it has found its way into the possession of his ex-wife Rachel (Alex Essoe) and her new husband Chris (John Brotherton), there to wreak fresh havoc.

Like many a man turned monster before it, the drone is operating under the illusion that Rachel will easily fall prey to its seduction if only she can be prised away from rival men. To this end, it sets about trying to set Chris up, taking voyeuristic photos of a flirtatious neighbour and downloading them onto his computer. This provides room for some playful (though surprisingly restrained) exploitation tropes. Before long, however, events take a darker turn. There may be other ways of getting rid of the unwanted man. What's more, the drone becomes more direct in its advances on Rachel. Though Rubin intermittently manages to generate some menace in these scenes, there's really no way to develop the theme without a considerably quantity of silliness. He rolls with this. Although the film is played straight, there's a soap opera style edge of camp to it which mitigates against anyone taking it too seriously.

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Whilst there are people out there who have a sexual fetish for drones, they tend to be quite geeky about the technical side of things and may find that the way this film brushes over those details limits the pleasure they can take in its more overtly exploitative moments, but Rubin know better than to worry about plot holes in a project of this type. The main risk he faces is that the melodrama will deplete the thrill of the genre elements, making the film feel like a TV movie. Judiciously placed scenes of violence help to keep it in balance. And although a number of other people get involved in investigating the mysterious goings-on, the scriptwriters have wisely dispensed with all those tedious scenes of disbelief that many such films seem to think are obligatory, touching on the subject only when it's strictly necessary to advance the plot.

Though it lacks the pizazz of Rubin's previous project, The Drone is a solid enough little film that doesn't try too hard and lets viewers engage in their own way. if there's a serious point being made about voyeurism and the lack of privacy in contemporary society, it's lost because of the failure of one victim after another to obey one of the first rules of the horror film: just close the damn curtains.

Reviewed on: 29 Jan 2019
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The Drone packshot
A newlywed couple is terrorized by a consumer drone that has become sentient with the consciousness of a deranged serial killer.

Director: Jordan Rubin

Writer: Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan

Starring: Alex Essoe, Anita Briem, John Brotherton, Simon Rex, Rex Linn, Gonzalo Menendez, Neil Sandilands

Year: 2019

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: US


Frightfest 2019

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