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Movie Review 'The Drone'

Silly horror satire fails to establish tone.

The Drone is one of the silliest nonsense horror movies of recent memory. The film ranks next to movies like Zombeavers or the Korean horror movie, The Wig, which features killer hair extensions, as a movie with a dopey beyond dopey premise. The Drone features exactly what the title promises, a drone. Only this particular drone happens to have the spirit of a dead serial killer inside of it.

The Drone stars Alex Essoe as Rachel and John Brotherton as Chris. The two are newlyweds who have just moved into a beautiful new home. Upon moving in, Chris finds an unexpected gift outside the house, a pristine looking drone. He takes the drone inside and rather than try to find the owner, he decides to make it his own. He buys a new remote control and takes it for a spin. Unfortunately, this drone has a mind of its own.

In a pre-credits sequence we see the same drone stalking a woman through a window in an upper apartment. The drone snaps a few a pictures of the unwitting woman in her undies and returns to its owner, a serial killer and desperate pervert named Ramsey, aka The Violator (Neil Sandilands). The Violator is then nearly captured when the police arrive and raid his apartment. He makes his way to the roof with his drone in hand and in a scene only fans of Child’s Play would appreciate, he’s struck by lightning and his soul is transferred to his drone.

Returning to the present day, the weirdness around The Drone is unending. The couple’s dog recognizes the evil right away and begins barking at it constantly. Chris fails to notice and the dog is put outside. The drone then keeps popping up in weird places, places where it wasn’t left, places it could only get if it were flying on its own. When the drone begins to steal and store photos on Rachel’s computer she starts to become suspicious that the drone has it out for her and her new husband.

I compared The Drone to Zombeavers earlier in this review and that comparison was more appropriate than I realized. The Drone was written and directed by Jordan Rubin, the auteur behind Zombeavers. That explains in part why The Drone is so funny. Yes, I was laughing a lot during The Drone, even as I was not sure that I was supposed to be. Unlike Zombeavers, which has its funny bone forward, The Drone features such straightforward performances that the comedy gets a tad muted.

The biggest problem is the film’s mixed tone. I could assume that the film is intended as satire based solely on Jordan Rubin being the director, but before I remembered who the director was, I wasn’t quite sure if The Drone was sending up horror movie cliches or regurgitating them. Alex Essoe is the film’s biggest tonal error as she doesn’t appear to be in on any of the satire. Essoe appears terrified quite seriously throughout.

John Brotherton meanwhile, is slightly more hip to the goofiness than Essoe. He plays his character’s jerky, bro-ey aspects to the hilt early on and appears to get what movie he’s in far more than the serious terror that Essoe is playing. Brotherton gets in a few good gags and his far lighter approach to the ridiculousness of The Drone lends itself well to the intended satire even as the film never becomes as funny as I assume is intended.

Naturally, with The Drone coming from the writer-director of Zombeavers, many are wondering about the goofy gore. There is plenty to be enjoyed and plenty to roll your eyes at. Character actor Rex Linn slums his way through The Drone as a private investigator the couple hires to locate the drone after it briefly disappears. His end is gory and deeply ignominious. Let’s just say that he’s seen better days and so has his backside.

The dialogue in The Drone doesn’t help the film in the satire department. For instance, Rachel’s backstory is so dumb it earns a groan and not a laugh. She was traumatized in the past by a remote control car and is thus eagerly suspicious of the drone, though not suspicious enough to have sex in front of it more than once. The backstory is given by Brotherton which means it is delivered with the right tone of silliness, but that we are meant to take it seriously as a backstory pushes beyond my suspension of disbelief. It’s either serious or seriously stupid and not in a funny way.

Then there is the neighbor, played by Icelandic actress Anita Briem. Poor Ms Briem has to deliver the line, “Heard your dog barking the other night, thought you two were into some kinky s***.” With English not being her first language, the line is delivered in a flat, affectless monotone with a wink that intends something sexy, but plays more braindead. I know, it’s meant to be funny, but it doesn’t play funny.

The best known actor in the movie is Simon Rex, the former star of the straight to video versions of the Scary Movie franchise. He’s dispatched very early, but not before a scene where he is talking to a child about the serial killer that he believes died that night. The kid delivers raunchy dialogue approximating hoping the killer rots in hell and Rex, much like Briem, reacts with a flat, affectless response that appears to communicate humor but falls well short.

These lines have comic intent, I think, but come off as raunch for the sake of raunch. They are bits of shock dialogue intended to catch you off guard. All they did to me was land with a laugh-less thud. In fairness to Briem and Rex, I doubt that anyone could make these lines funny though. They don’t exactly appear all that phased by their obvious failure to launch these lame, ugly, stupid lines.

The Drone is almost as ambitiously silly as Zombeavers, but lacks that films much weirder touch. That film was far more outlandish than The Drone which takes itself far more and far too seriously. I’m not saying the seriousness is intentional, it’s impossible to tell exactly what the film intends to communicate to the audience. It’s definitely funny, and many times it appears to intend that humor. Other times, it’s clumsy and asks too much of our indulgence for supposedly satirical badness.

The Drone aims for the needles eye of so bad it’s good and far too often lands on bad. That said, if this type of lunacy about the soul of a serial killer inside a drone is your kind of humor then maybe you might see something in The Drone that I don’t. I found The Drone altogether to convoluted and crummy to like it enough to recommend it. I don’t dislike The Drone, but it’s certainly nowhere near the sublime ridiculousness of Zombeavers. 

Read next: So Mote It Be
Sean Patrick
Sean Patrick

I have been a film critic for more than 17 years and worked professionally, as a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association for the past 6 years. My favorite movie of all time is The Big Lebowski because it always feels new. 

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Movie Review 'The Drone'
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