Directed by Shane Kuhn & Brendan Cowles
Produced by Chris Sievernich, Matthew Weaver, Matt Milich, Martin Wiley
Written by Shane Kuhn & Brendan Cowles
Director of Photograpy Vincent Toto
Music by Ralph Rieckermann
Cast: Leighton Meester, Nicholas D'Agosto, Melora Hardin, Larry Joe Campbell

2007/91 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Lionsgate DVD

It's the age-old question; rip-off or homage? I listen to a lot of music and I like to think that I have a keen ear for songs that sound like other songs. At times, this can seem like borderline plagiarism (There’s a song on the new Linkin Park album whose opening sounds just like Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”.) These songs make me question the songwriting ability of those involved. On the other hand, some songs can be comforting in the sense that they remind one of other band. (I think Muse sounds like Radiohead with a harder edge and I find this very cool.) These ideas can be applied to movies as well. Is DRIVE THRU a shoddy rip-off of slasher films, or a homage to some 80s classics?

DRIVE THRU is set in Orange County, California, where we meet 17-year old high school student Mackenzie Carpenter (Leighton Meester). Mackenzie is a young rebel who likes to annoy her hippie-turned-yuppy parents. But, Mackenzie’s world is shattered when some of her friends are murdered. To make matters worse, the killer is said to have been dressed as Horny the Clown, the mascot of the Hellaburger restaurant chain. Following the first murders, Mackenzie begins to receive mysterious messages which give her clues as to who the next victims will be. While she is powerless to stop the murders, Mackenzie begins to see a pattern with the victims which leads her back to the adults in her life. Realizing that she is to be the killer’s final victim, Mackenzie enlists the help of her boyfriend, Fisher (Nicholas D’Agosto), to try and stop the killer.

The degree to which you will enjoy DRIVE THRU depends on the amount of leeway you are willing to give it. At the outset, I thought that this was going to be more of a horror comedy, given the outrageous look of killer (whose airbrushed clown mask makes him resemble SweetTooth from the “Twisted Metal” video games). And there are some corny jokes, such as the name of the town Blanc Carne (“white meat”), or a neighboring high school, San Guano (“saint batshit”), or the police detective character Crockers (Larry Joe Campbell), who everyone keeps calling “Crackers”. The first third of the film simply plays as a silly and somewhat flat slasher film.

And then the plot twist arrives. I won’t give it away, but depending on your point of view, it’s either taken directly from, or inspired by A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. We also get a nice dash of PROM NIGHT and a hint of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. Now, instead of feeling as if DRIVE THRU was a rip-off of these movies, I felt that it was a tribute to the slasher classics of the 1980s. In fact, it wasn’t until the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET reference appeared that I actually sat up (literally, I had been about to fall asleep on the sofa) and pay attention to the movie. It was the cinematic equivalent to “Hey, I know this song!”

But, the familiar ways of DRIVE THRU don’t make it a perfect movie, as it still has its share of defects. At it’s core, it’s still a cheesy slasher movie. I realize that the sarcastic quips from Horny the Clown (seriously?) weren’t mean to evoke images of Freddy Krueger, but at this moment in time, they simply sound silly. The killings are rather random and there’s not much gore here. My biggest problem with the movie was...well...the entire story. Was the killer a ghost? This was never rectified. Given the supernatural messages which were sent to Mackenzie, he would have to be, but we never know for sure. Given the amount of detail which went into linking the victims, the vague ending is a let-down. The movie does get a boost from its strong cast. While the actors aren’t household names, a quick look at their resumes shows that most have a background in episodic television and no one comes across as amateurish.

Slasher films have come and gone over the years and I don’t think we’re ready for another cycle to begin. But, it’s not necessarily a bad time for a film which references some 80s classics. Make no mistake, DRIVE THRU isn’t a great, or even a very good movie, but if you’re like me and you group up with movies like A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and PROM NIGHT, the movies gracious nods to these films will fit you like an old concert t-shirt.

DRIVE THRU asks you to drive around on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks fairly good, as the picture is sharp and clear. There is a small amount of grain here, but the transfer is free from overt defects from the source material. The colors look good, especially the reds and blues in the more stylized scenes. The transfer has revealed some errors in the film itself, and some shots appear to be slightly out of focus. Artifacting and edge-enhancement issues are kept to a minimum. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The in-film music sounds fine, and there are some good stereo effects here. Yet, I detected no notable surround sound effects and very little in the way of subwoofer action.

There are no extra features on this DVD.




There is no extras.


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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2007. ©