19th Jun2020

‘Driven’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Casey Dillard, Richard Speight Jr., Jessica Harthcock, Glenn Payne, Bill Luckett, Leah Hudspeth, Andy Field, Jennifer Hamilton Collins, Mari Kenney, Jamie Fair | Written by Casey Dillard | Directed by Glenn Payne

[NOTE: With the film out now on VOD from Uncork’d Entertainment, here’s a repost of our review of the fantastic horror film Driven, which debuted in the UK at last August’s Frightfest]

Emerson Graham’s nights as a cab driver are filled with annoyances and inconveniences, but until tonight, never attacks and disappearances. After picking up manic Roger, a mysterious passenger out to break an ancient curse his family began generations ago with poorly translated spells and busted talismans, her evening goes from working a job to performing a terrifying quest as they must race against the clock to defeat an insidious force of evil; and the meter is running…

Ride share movies are slowly becoming de rigueur in horror, films like Ryde, Rideshare, Ryde or Die and Ride (god these titles are innovative aren’t they?) all posit the same terrifying concept of never knowing who is getting into your car or whose car you’re getting into… Driven plays on those same fears though with a slightly more comedic bent. Though this film never goes for huge laughs or huge shocks/horror – it’s a low-fi, almost laid-back story that tells its tale through the actions of its protagonists not through showing special effects or over the top action. For all intents and purposes Driven is a two-person play wrote big on the screen.

The true highlight of Driven is the script. Penned by Casey Dillard, who also stars in the film as Emerson, the script keeps the pace tight and the laughs coming, even in the midst of all the horror. Talking of the script, can I just say about time someone mentioned a turd spoon in the movies – though we used to call it a shit stick! What’s most effective and most surprising about Driven though is the fact that the entire film is set inside of a car. Yes, we occasionally get glimpses of what, or who, is outside the car but the camera never truly ventures outside the vehicle – the action takes place mostly from inside the car’s perspective, sometimes looking out, but mostly looking in. And despite that fact Dillard’s script still manages to craft an entire world in which this film is set, through the sheer momentum of her storytelling and the world-building her script does through the banter between Emerson and Roger.

Speaking of whom, Dillard and co-star Richard Speight Jr., starring as Emerson and Roger respectively, have a great on-screen chemistry. It’s almost family-like in nature, yet the chemistry is mostly un-written, it comes from the performers: from their charisma, their rapport and the very nature of being together in a confined space for any given amount of time – there HAS to be some rapidly-sought familiarity between actors when they spend so much time together in such a small space. That all comes across on screen, as does both Dillard and Speight’s likeability, helping the audience connect with the characters and really, pardon the pun, stick with them on this wild ride.

***** 5/5

Driven is out now on VOD from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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