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The Drone [Frightfest 2019 Review]

The Drone comes to us courtesy of the producers behind Searching and Unfriended, but don’t let that fool you; the emphasis might be on dodgy tech once again, but the tone is decidedly less serious. This is to the film’s immense credit because, let’s face it, a story about a sentient drone flying around killing people could never be too serious. No matter how scary those red lights — they look like angry eyes — might be.

The Child’s Play-esque opening establishes that a pervy serial killer known as The Violator (really) has been flying his drone around town spying on ladies undressing (a shock jock on the radio wonders how they don’t notice this big, buzzing thing flying right outside their windows). When cornered by police, this total cliche of a man — he snorts coke, but he’s also kind of camp for some reason — flees the scene.

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He is subsequently killed, leading his soul to enter the drone itself. So, yes, The Drone presupposes that its villain is kind of like Charles Lee Ray, and the hovering bot his Chucky doll. Suffice to say, this introduction is goofy AF, proper eighties style stuff, and it only gets increasingly weirder from there. Happily married couple Chris (Fuller House star John Brotherton) and Rachel (Starry Eyes‘ Alex Essoe) soon stumble upon the drone in their new home, leading to all kinds of shenanigans.

As Chris uses the bot to spy on their neighbors (“We’re invading their privacy,” Rachel points out to which he responds, “That’s the point, it’s a drone”) his wife becomes increasingly uneasy. There’s some sort of traumatic event in her past involving a toy race car (again, really) and she just can’t get used to the idea that this thing has invaded their home and appears to be following her around. In fact, the drone does follow her around, in several hilarious sequences in which it’s shown looking about, sitting in a rocking chair, and even following her car home. Eventually, yes, it will try to seduce her.

Rachel and Chris are the kind of movie couple who say “baby” way too much and fight just as much as they shag. Essoe does worried wife well, never straying into harpy territory (at one point she screams that she hates the noise of the drone, only for Chris to tell her “that’s the refrigerator”) while Brotherton, clad in a Canadian tuxedo and too-long scarf like he’s cosplaying as Chris Jericho, is douchey but never an all-out dick. The actor looks like a strange mixture of David Harbour and Eric Christian Olsen in Not Another Teen Movie, so it’s easy to understand why Rachel wants him all the time.

This is the kind of nutso movie that employs The Room-esque dramatics, except it’s in a purposeful, knowing way, a movie in which the character who supposedly chain-smokes never once actually inhales, and in which the serial killer’s deeper connection to one of the characters is both plainly obvious and also batshit insane enough that it completely works as a big reveal. The Drone is under no illusions about what kind of movie it is, and it flourishes as a result.

A fun, retrowave score complements all the techie wizadry, while the script, as is probably already evident, asks the actors to play it straight while simultaneously turning everything up to eleventy stupid. When one character sadly reveals “I spent the night in a motel,” you half expect the sentence to conclude, “…with the drone.” Ah, the drone. The drone flies up someone’s butt. The drone attacks with pure, violent ferocity. The drone eventually acquires the ability to speak.

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The Drone builds and builds and builds to a truly wacky climax. If you liked writer-director Jordan Rubin’s previous, brilliantly stupid, film Zombeavers, then you have some idea of what the tone is here. Much like that bizarre, super fun little movie, this is an absolute joy to sit through, flying past as quickly as the drone yet managing to be memorable through sheer force of will. The Drone is truly one of a kind, and well worth checking out when it hovers into view next month.

Catch The Drone on DVD, Digital, and On Demand from October 15

Director(s): Jordan Rubin
Writer(s): Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan, Jordan Rubin
Stars: John Brotherton, Alex Essoe, Neil Sandilands, Anita Briem
Release date: October 15, 2019 (DVD, Digital, and On Demand)
Studio/Production Company: Bazelevs Production
Language: English
Run Time: 82 minutes

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Written by Joey Keogh
Slasher fanatic Joey Keogh has been writing since she could hold a pen, and watching horror movies even longer. Aside from making a little home for herself at Wicked Horror, Joey also writes for Birth.Movies.Death, The List, and Vague Visages among others. Her actual home boasts Halloween decorations all year round. Hello to Jason Isaacs.
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