NIGHT DRIVE (2021) Reviews and overview of mystery thriller

 

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‘Light traffic. Heavy sh*t.’

Night Drive is a 2021 American mystery thriller about a rideshare driver’s life that turned upside down by an enigmatic passenger.

Co-directed and co-produced by Brad Baruh (Dead Night 2017; producer of John Dies at the End) and Meghan Leon (making her feature directorial debut) from a screenplay written by the latter.

The movie stars AJ Bowen (Edge of Insanity; Satanic Panic; I Trapped the Devil; Dead Night), Sophie Dalah (Satanic; Dead Night), Lamar Bell, Reba Buhr, LeeAnn Demarco and Andrew Enloe.

Plot:

Russell (AJ Bowen) is a rideshare driver in Los Angeles who’s reeling from a series of bad decisions. While his life seems to be caught in a downward spiral, a business proposition from an alluring but enigmatic passenger named Charlotte (Sophie Dalah) proves too good to turn down.

A simple night ride turns deadly, catapulting Russell into an even darker place, but Charlotte may be the key to a second chance he thought he’d never have… if he can make it through the night.

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[May contain minor spoilers] Reviews:

“It starts out as something akin to a buddy movie then takes a much darker turn, barrelling through a number of genres with aplomb. Bowen and Dalah have great chemistry and directors Brad Baruh and Meghan Leon take us smoothly up through the gears. Night Drive is an entertaining and vibrant slice of (multi)genre cinema which is teeming with ideas.” Backseat Mafia

” …things that had been separated are brought together at speed, and for a moment grip seems lost. Co-Writers Meghan Leon and Brad Baruh, who also co-direct, have experience behind the scenes of various Disney juggernauts. This is nimbler, smaller, pacier. At a breezy 80-ish minutes it manages an ending that asks questions of us without indulging too much in the temptation to dig up answers.” Eye for Film

” …the Christmas-time setting gives everything a bit of a Shane Black vibe. Night Drive is a Coen-esque comedy of errors, an entertaining and sometimes tense film that zigs when you think it will zag, building to an ending you’ll never see coming.” Fantastic Fest 2021

“An admirable attempt by all involved, Night Drive is a perfectly enjoyable way to whittle away eighty minutes, it just doesn’t quite have enough substance to make it anything more than that. There’s some great acting and interplay between the leads, but they can’t make the film’s format from becoming tiresome and the interesting but odd reveal is too little too late.” The Hollywood News

“Baruh and Leon have crafted a fun, thoroughly engaging thrill ride filled with humorous moments and sudden peril. They strike a perfect balance between comedy and suspense. Avoid spoilers and put Night Drive on your radar.” Horror Fuel

“Night Drive is played serious, which is a bit of a shame as a somewhat lighter tone might have helped add an extra layer to what is a pretty thin premise that feels drawn out and padded even for the film’s scant 75 minute (minus credits) running time […] everything that this film deals with has been done better in movies that have gone before it (and some on a similar low budget).” House of Mortal Cinema 

“It’s one thing to surprise the audience, but it’s another to pull the rug out from under them with a reveal that doesn’t add much to the story or offer much re-watch value for new observations. Solid performances and interesting characters go a long way to keep the audience buckled in with Night Drive, but distracting turns and a lack of effective suspense make this one ride you might want to pass up.” Killer Horror Critic

“It’s low budget and rough at the edges, but that’s appropriate […] Bowen has been doing great work in low-budget horror, specialising in fallible, sort-of likeable, potentially dangerous characters […] this is one of his best showcases.  Baruh and Leon are plainly a team to watch.” The Kim Newman Website

“The twist comes up suddenly and very unexpectedly, and most of all, knowing the ending makes any rewatch of the film take a really different route. With some fun travel companions, driving tension, and an enjoyable u-turn into the realm of sci-fi, Night Drive takes the viewer on an unexpected road trip, which will hopefully make this film a new option for holiday horror.” Nightmarish Conjurings

Night Drive falls just short of great but remains a neat, interesting character-based sci-fi story. The script is strong, and it’s a smart execution of a concept that hasn’t yet been done to death. While it’s undeniable that the film could benefit from the addition of a character or two, it still works well focused on the dynamic of that central pair.” The Pitch

” …you probably don’t want to expect anything in this film to be conventional. It’s one where the pieces all fit together, but the final picture isn’t what you expect. An engaging thriller with a nice dose of dark comedy, Night Drive is a film to go into knowing as little as possible. Its twists and surprises are too much fun to have spoiled.” Voices from the Balcony

Release date:

In the USA, Dark Sky Films will release Night Drive theatrically in select locations and On-Demand on August 6, 2021.

Notes:

According to the 2021 Fantastic Fest website, Night Drive was shot in 2019.

Cast and characters:

AJ Bowen … Russell
Sophie Dalah … Charlotte
Lamar Bell … Police Officer
Reba Buhr … Sarah
LeeAnn Demarco … Iris
Andrew Enloe … Bill
Jason Hillhouse … Hoagie Santa
Shawn Kade … Gurdjieff
Dianna Miranda … Marnia
Nathan Owen … PJ Man
Scott Poythress … Frank

Technical details:

82 minutes

Budget:

$300,000 (estimated)

Trailer:

Clip 1:

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