DVD REVIEW: THE DRIFT / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: DARREN SCALES / SCREENPLAY: SUE MORRIS / STARRING: JONNY BLACK, VICTORIA HOPKINS, VIN HAWKE, PETER REVEL-WALSH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Even more unlikely than travelling faster than light is the very fact that The Drift even exists. Shot for £5000 with the help of more than 100 volunteers and the aid of local businesses, The Drift marks the debut feature from Darren Scales and the Lincolnshire-based Backyard Productions. Shot at RAF Waddington over 12 days and with all proceeds donated to charity, it’s a film that deserves a standing ovation. The end result is an entertaining and thought-provoking sci-fi/horror more than three years in the making.
Scales imagines a future where starlight crystals enable faster than light travel, but a dark wave inexplicably damages the crystals, leaving millions stranded in ships across the galaxy. Set twenty years after the crippling event, the salvage ship Deliverance and its crew explore the drift, discovering a mass of dead vessels. Priorities soon shift from salvage to survival, while one of the crewmember’s hidden agenda becomes increasingly compromised.
Compiling 1300 different shots, many of which are CG compositions, the finished product winds up looking like a slicker Babylon 5. It manages to capture a Spielberg-like wanderlust of space travel, portraying a future that is as grubby as it is mesmerising. Scales opts for a more hands-on, action-orientated approach for the interior shots, in stark contrast to the careful ballet of the space scenes. Both are brought to life by James Griffiths’ score, halfway between the screeching strings of Hitchcock’s Psycho and Kubrick’s matching of The Blue Danube to spaceships.
Taking plenty of cues from the Alien franchise, both visually and in terms of character interaction, it’s familiar but never repetitive. Vin Hawke’s American accent is a little cringe-worthy, and some of the cast do leave a lot to be desired, but there are some terrific performances, especially from Victoria Hopkins, whose character quickly proves to be the most interesting and integral.
More than its grassroots, hands-on production, The Drift is a film that puts the ‘wow’ factor back into space, restoring the essential sense of adventure. The story is a little underwritten, and some of the acting is iffy, but it can more than hold its own against its mega-budget contemporaries.