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The Drone (A Movie Review)

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

The Drone

THE DRONE (2019)

Starring Alex Essoe, John Brotherton, Anita Briem, Rex Linn, Neil Sandilands, Simon Rex, Christopher Matthew Cook, Gonzalo Menendez, Harvey B. Jackson, Jared Morgan, Roger Berard and the voice of Travis Geske.

Screenplay by Al Kaplan & Jon Kaplan & Jordan Rubin.

Directed by Jordan Rubin.

Distributed by Lionsgate Pictures. 82 minutes. Rated R.

There is the seed of a brilliant idea for a horror movie in The Drone.

Drones have become so commonplace so quickly in the world that they could be an invaluable tool for a serial killer. They are silent, stealthy, can get into awkward spaces and are made specifically for spying. They make peeping on people easy because they are at a far enough distance that they are as likely as not to be overlooked. As military drones show us, they can also be weaponized.

So, yes, a drone is a very smart device for someone with nefarious intents.

The problem with The Drone, and the reason that it ends up feeling so silly, is that the drone is not an instrument in this scenario. The drone is the actual killer.

Well, more specifically, this is a normal everyday machine which is somehow possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, who has decided to continue to try to ply his trade even though he is now a few inches tall and made of plastic.

And while the idea of a drone following people around with an anonymous psychopath somewhere out there plotting evil is scary, the idea that the machine itself is the psychopath just seems ridiculous.

In The Drone this small machine does many things that would seem to be physically impossible for a plastic whirligig that weighs less than five pounds. Somehow, we are supposed to believe, a drone is able to fill a room with rose petals and lit candles (wouldn’t the propellers blow out the candles?), write threats on walls, carry a man that outweighs it by nearly 200 pounds, and ravage human flesh with its fearsome three-inch plastic copter blades.

Yeah, right.

Strangely, no one thinks to remove its batteries. Problem solved, right?

The main problem with The Drone is that it can’t seem to decide whether it is trying to be a horror film, a dark satire or a piece of social commentary. It ends up being a muddle; not scary enough to be a thriller, not funny enough to be a comedy, and unsure of the larger societal points it is trying to get across. Is it trying to bemoan the lack of privacy in the modern world? Fair enough, but it never bothers to make a compelling case about this fact of modern life – other than perhaps the very generic “drones are bad.”

And honestly, as spooky bogeymen go, there is something kind of absurd about trying to get jump scares out of a flying plastic machine hovering around in the background. Then again, maybe it is expecting too much to get nuance and subtlety from a director whose last movie was called Zombeavers.

I still think there is a good thriller to be made from the drone phenomenon. The Drone doesn’t quite rise to the occasion, though.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: October 15, 2019.

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