21st Dec2020

‘Dune Drifter’ DVD Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Pheobe Sparrow, Daisy Atkins, Simon Dwyer Thomas | Written and Directed by Marc Price

I think it was last year that I got to see Nightshooters and was utterly blown away by what Marc Price had created  with very little money but a huge imagination and a ton of “dare to dream” attitude. I mean what’s the point in making movies or trying to entertain audiences unless you grab your nuts by the hand and run at the wall at a death defying rate screaming “don’t tell me it can’t be done”. Surely that’s indie film making at its core?!

Being a fan of Nightshooters I was always going to check out what Price did next and of course I was turned onto his first flick, Colin, which was pretty damn good too. Now… I have a pretty eclectic movie pallette and very rarely find myself on the middle of the road with films, usually falling one way or the other – making my reaction to this one a bit of surprise. You know what… let’s just jump into Dune Drifter (I have to think this name was an attempt at clever marketing ploy).

We open on a space battle (of sorts) that is trying desperately hard to look and feel like the opening to Star Wars: A New Hope, I wouldn’t say it’s not working but we will get back to that. It seems like humanity is on its way out and this small band of fighter pilots are fighting for survival; when our main character is flung out of space and crash lands on a near by planet. With her ship bust to hell and having only two days air supply she must find a way to patch up her ride home and get off this rock. But… she may not be alone. In fact I’ll just say it she isn’t alone there is an alien (kind of) trying to kill her!

As I stated earlier, I have seen what Marc Price can accomplish with almosrt zero-budget and have been impressed with his work to date. However, honestly, I feel like tackling sci-fi may have been a bridge to far. Now I do have rules when I talk about movies at this level –  and one of them is that you really have to consider what goes into making the film. And with Dune Drifter you can’t fault the work put in; these guys have created a fun little retro throwback to the sci-fi of yesteryear, complete with its clunky space fighting (intentional or not) and making use of the murky British lands.

However this was the problem for me, I wasn’t convinced either way that was the intened style and vision of the flick or not. If it was the bravo, you get top marks but there are parts of Dune Drifter that don’t have me convinced. If that is what you were going for, a call back to the days of the Roger Corman’s of the world and their school of B-movie film making then yes, I have no complaints because then this movie is super endearing, charming and full of passion. The point of contention was that the cinematography on the planet scenes is actually brillaint and they have shot some great stuff here in a pretty Interstellar (on a budget) fashion. Meaning I couldn’t connect the work on the planet to the more low-budget, B-movie-esque space bits and the problem was I loved both these sections for completely different reasons.

In terms of performance, the lead actress is solid in the role with a couple of really great scenes that she really gets to chew on and, to be honest, in a slow burn lone survivor on a desolate planet film, scenes like this are what keep us moving to the end. There are not real amazing special effects to speak of, I kind of just imagine these scenes were shot in a blacked out garage or something and the lasers were added in later which is all fine as far as I’m concerned (you do what you can to achieve the vision and it adds to that retro feeling IMHO).

Once I knew what Dune Drifter was and got over the fact that it wasn’t going to be what it wanted to be, I fell into the films groove a lot better. I was able to embrace the schlocky nature and even come to love the space battle sequences, as they reminded of the sci-fi flicks my mum and dad watched on Sunday morning – films that still hold a place in my heart.

I admire the testicular fortitude on show to go out and make this movie and honestly the end product is pretty impressive no matter which way you look at it,. But from my point of view Nightshooters is a country mile better than this and while I feel like I may have missed an over-arcing point to this movie, I just didn’t like it enough to discover the underlying subtlety’s that come with classic sci-fi. I think Marc Price has a ton of promise and will continue to bring us exciting projects but I’m not overly sure what happened with Dune Drifter. Having said that there is an audience for this movie and it is a recommend from me; not my strongest recommend but one none the less.

*** 3/5

Dune Drifter is available on DVD and Digital now.

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