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To say that I've been looking forward to Driftwood would be an understatement, as I found director Tim Sullivan's last film (2001 Maniacs) to be one of the few remakes that has managed to outdo the source material; it also clocked in on my "Best of 2006" list, so needless to say, I was excited to see what the man had up his sleeve for his second film. The early descriptions of the film led me to believe that this one would be another campy, splatterific offering in the vein of the aforementioned 2001 Maniacs; I mean, we're dealing with ghosts haunting a home for juvenile delinquents, a pro wrestler in one of the leading roles, and numerous mentions of Columbine - can we say camp? Shockingly, Driftwood was absolutely nothing like 2001 Maniacs, and to be honest, I never would have guessed that this was Sullivan's latest film had I not seen his name in the credits. This is not a bad thing, as tonight's film turned out to be a damned fine offering.
Review by Chad
Added: December 16, 2007
Meet David Forrester (Ricky Ullman). David is a 16-year-old teenager who has just lost his rock-star older brother, and riddled with grief over this loss, he turns to painting his fingernails black and writing about death in his blog (one can only assume said blog was hosted on MySpace). His parents decide that he's now a danger to himself and others around him, so they ship his ass off to a correctional facility for "troubled" teens, and there, David meets Captain Kennedy (Diamond Dallas Page). Kennedy runs this place with an iron fist, and as David quickly discovers, the people running this place don't exactly play by the rules; beatings are not uncommon, getting locked up with the rats and maggots in the hole isn't unheard of, and being forced to run the gauntlet while being beaten by the other teens is an almost nightly punishment. David also discovers that these beatings and punishments may be the least of his worries, as there seems to be a ghostly figure roaming the halls late at night once everyone else has gone to bed. We soon find out that this ghost has connections to the history of this place, and we also realize that David must crack the case before the authorities discover that the dead don't always stay silent.
Once again, I must stress that this film is the polar opposite of 2001 Maniacs, so if you're one of those idiots - I mean, people - who didn't get a whole lot of enjoyment out of that one, make damned sure that you don't hold that against Driftwood. On the other hand, if you - like me - enjoyed the hell out of 2001 Maniacs, don't go into this one expecting more of the same. The film is much more character-driven, with an emphasis on tension and storyline rather than humor and buckets of gore. This is not to say that it's a lesser film, just a very, very different one.
One of the strongest points of the film is the storyline itself. Now, this is a storyline that may not be completely original, but it's done with style here and having it set inside what amounts to a maximum security prison for teens turned what could have been just more of the same into something truly memorable. The plot slowly unravels for us at home, clues are given along the way, and all the while, the tension levels and atmosphere are being built up to one hell of a grand finale. I was also surprised about the direction that they went with the storyline, as there are some surprises in store towards the end; I won't say that it's completely unpredictable, but there are some details thrown in that are actually quite shocking and, again, serve to make this much better than the numerous other supernatural thrillers littering shelves.
Finally, I couldn't close out this review without mentioning the cast, as I felt that the two leads - Ullman and Page - did fantastic jobs with their roles. Ricky / Raviv Ullman may be best known for his time on various Disney Channel productions, so to say that I was a little skeptical of Sullivan's decision to thrust him into the leading role of a film like this wouldn't do my initial feelings justice. This kid manages to go through all of the required emotions - rage, anger, fear, depression - with ease, and I must say that he has a bright future if his performance here was any indication.
The other major shocker was Diamond Dallas Page. Now, I enjoyed watching him back during his wrestling days and he did a good job with his minor role in The Devil's Rejects, but I didn't exactly have high hopes for him as one of the leading men. I was wrong... oh, so wrong. Page is phenomenal here, and he truly delivers exactly what this character needed to deliver. The audience quickly learns to despise this man, but at the same time, we want to see more of him as he is a screen presence to be reckoned with. Numerous professional wrestlers have tried their hands at acting, but I have to say that Page is easily the best of the bunch.
Definitely give this one a shot, as simply told, it's one hell of a film. You've got great scares, laughs, excellent performances, and of course, a storyline that keeps you hooked from beginning to end. 2007 has seen a number of great releases, and while I don't think that Sullivan will find a spot in the top ten this year, Driftwood will easily get an honorable mention at the very least. 10/10.
- added 12/19/2007, 11:39 AM
Wow. 10/10? Really. See -- I had the opposite
reaction to this film.
recall my comments in his last film, I am not a
huge admirer of Tim Sullivan's work. He seems
like just another Eli Roth or just another -- well
-- I won't sink so low as to compare him to Uwe
Boll. Anyhoo -- I don't think he's got lots of
creative ideas. "Driftwood" is nothing more than
"The Devil's Backbone" meets "The Shawshank
Redemption", and Guillermo del Toro and Frank
Darabont handles their material far better than
Sullivan handles his. "Driftwood" features the
same tired old set-ups, nothing visually creative
and a one-of-a-kind terrible performance from
Diamond Dallas Page. When I say Page is awful,
you just have to see it to believe it. At points,
you can see the wheels turning as he is searching
for what he is supposed to say.
Normally, I love horror film with bunches of
shirtless boys running around, but not this time
out. I didn't jump once in this film and I didn't
care about any of the character. These kids all
seemed like they deserved to be there and I was
rooting the Driftwood facility on the entire way.
I almost laughed at that scene where the lead guy
gets his ass kicked and then he sees the head of
the boy standing behind the oven in the kitchen.
The look on that corpse's face was enough to make
me chuckle ridiculously. "Driftwood" is lame.
That's the best I can say. Lame. 10/10? Really.
More like 2/10.
- added 12/19/2007, 06:41 PM
I'm not going to do a full-out debate on this
one, since my review is up there, your comment is
right here, and based on past experiences, neither
of us is going to change the other's mind. What I
will say is damn... how could you not love DDP in
his role? Granted, the man isn't going to be
moving on to award-winning dramas or intense
character studies, but he was beyond excellent in
this sort of role. Anywho, yeah, loved this one,
and I stand by my rating.
- added 12/19/2007, 10:20 PM
I am in awe that you could love a performance so
bad. And it was really bad. It wasn't like it
was so bad it was good -- it was just bad. His
accent was off the charts terrible, his acting
instincts were non-existent. He was just really,
really unbelievably bad.