A fast-paced thriller that throws up more than its fair share of surprises, Night Drive is another of those Frightfest offerings this year that, arguably, the less you know going in the better.

Part mismatched buddy/road movie, part dark comedy and part gruesome horror, directors Brad Baruh and Meghan Leon have come up with something a bit different – and the film is all the better for it.

We kick off by zeroing in on Russell (genre veteran AJ Bowen), a ride-share app driver scouring the California streets for fares. Russell is very much on a life downer, bemoaning what ‘might have been’ – mainly due to selling his share in an app he developed that subsequently took off in a big way.

Into his life – and car – comes Charlotte (Sophie Dalah), a chatty, carefree young woman who hires Russell for the night, slipping him some extra cash to ferry her around Tinseltown as she goes about her business.

The trouble for Russell though is that this business seems to involve swiping a mysterious briefcase from a house – and that is just the start of his troubles…

With the bulk of Night Drive being scenes with Russell and Charlotte sat in the car, the film very much lives or dies on the two leads. And the good news is it is very much a case of ‘lives’, thanks to some good chemistry between Bowen and Dalah.

Him world-weary, her quirky and energetic, Baruh and Leon get plenty of mileage out of their odd couple, peppering the film with witty exchanges over everything from life morals to confusion over cultural references (Charlotte mistake Bing Crosby for Bill Cosby at one point).

Riffing on a comedy/horror take on Michael Mann’s ‘Collateral’, Night Drive veers into something very different – and unexpected – about two-thirds of the way in, and I defy anyone to see where that abrupt change in direction was coming from.

But that just adds to the fun, with Baruh and Leon throwing in plenty of neon-drenched streets for good measure, as well as using the film’s festive setting to juxtapose nicely between the message of the season and the antics on screen.

I still had problems with Night Drive – there are some slight issues with pacing, while some of the dialogue smacks of trying too hard to be ‘cool’, but overall this is a frantic slice of fun.

Arrow Video Frightfest Review: Night Drive
3.5Overall Score
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About The Author

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Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle