Russell (AJ Bowen) is an uber driver whose best years are behind him. He once invented a popular app but let his partner buy him out before it launched. The app went supernova making his partner billions while Russell consumed with anger and resentment ended up divorced and bitter. He now works as an uber driver in the fancy car he got as a pay off. One night he picks up Charlotte (Sophie Dalah) who coaxes him into going to a second location after handing over $500. Soon she’s stealing something from an ex-boyfriend and before you know it Russell is having the night from hell.
Written by Meghan Leon and directed by Leon and Brad Baruh Night Drive is a neon-drenched LA crime thriller with a wild third act. AJ Bowen is a fave who has starred in some of the most interesting horror films of the past few years (You’re Next, A Horrible Way to Die, I Trapped the Devil to name but a few). As such, I super wanted to love this but alas I didn’t. Night Drive unfortunately has some structural issues. Firstly for an 82-minute film, it feels really long and that is entirely down to the fact that as a character Charlotte is just awful. No offence to Dalah who successfully plays Charlotte as a hedonistic, moral vacuum but the character is just no fun to be around. She’s a rude whiny brat who treats Russell terribly and sneers at everything he is. Being in her company is not a joy and as such the film feels like quite a slog in places.
The other problem is the insane third act arrives far too late. It’s such an interesting idea when it does come and it comes out of nowhere. It’s WILD! But when it does appear it’s just too late to do anything interesting with it. It’s like the movie finally gets going and then it’s ended. The ending is dramatically satisfying if not morally so. There’s a real whiff of misogyny to it that I didn’t care for.
Still, despite all that, it’s well shot and AJ Bowen is always a delight to watch. But this isn’t quite the thrill ride I was hoping for.
Night Drive screened at Grimmfest