The Drift, 2014.
Directed by Darren Scales.
Starring Jonny Black, Victoria Hopkins, Vin Hawke and Peter Revel-Walsh.
After the catastrophic Dark Wave damaged every faster-than-light crystal, leaving thousands of ships stranded and drifting, a small salvage vessel arrives at a spaceship graveyard. But the crew soon discover that not everything on this Drift is dead, and as the objective changes from salvage to survival, it emerges that one crew member has a secret agenda…
There are a great many liberties independent films can take which the mainstream wouldn’t dare think of. But don’t fret – Backyard Production’s sci-fi extravaganza The Drift hasn’t nearly made as much of a ruckus as your bog-standard Troma feature. Instead, The Drift presents itself as a smorgasbord of references to the classic and the cult in science fiction film, but is it much more than that? Let’s find out.
The Drift, directed by Darren Scales (and possibly the first instalment in the Dark Wave Universe) and written by Sue Morris, has a story straight from the Doctor Who episode the BBC are still scribbling frantically to get down on paper. It’s set in a world where technological advancement becomes empowered via mysterious crystals, and space travel becomes a common jaunt for humans. But an event dubbed the Dark Wave renders all crystal powerless, leaving spaceships stranded in the farthest reaches of the cosmos. A rag-tag salvage team make their way to one particular ship on a recovery mission, but they find far more than their job’s worth, and one crew member has more than one mission to carry out…
One shouldn’t be put off by the familiarity of the plot, as The Drift isn’t here to make you ponder with Interstellar-level questions of philosophy. Rather, The Drift is a gorgeously made love letter to films and film-making in general. At a budget of only £5,000, its production values are to be admired, and it’s fairly seamless CGI is decent enough to raise your eyebrows. The Drift does indeed feel very aware of its own unoriginality, almost to the point where it revels in it – the film sports more Alien references than last year’s Doctor Who Christmas special!
Aside from production values, The Drift itself is a thoroughly entertaining slice of retro, pulpy sci-fi horror adventure. Its plot moves with a swift pace and its core characters are fun and engaging, although it’s worth debating whether some of the characters are nothing more than comic book fodder who don’t make it out of this flick as well as they’d like. Jonny Black and Victoria Hopkins provide the film with strong, dependable performances as the lead characters, and are backed by an amusing pik’n’mix selection of quirky characters who make up the rest of their crew.
The Drift is, ultimately, a joyful tour-de-force of independent sci-fi film. It bubbles with its own enthusiasm, no matter how grim or bloody the story becomes. The Drift arms itself with a solid script that takes more cues from sci-fi history than a premier snooker player and characters who could be placed in any Alien or Star Wars entry, but who’s brightness gives them a refreshing charge throughout the film. It’s a film that’s almost enough to send you scavenging through your DVD or VHS collection to point out which films The Drift may remind you of.
Worth watching? Yes. Repeated viewings? Yes. Sequel? Now please!
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★