Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Dune Drifter

My notes on Dune Drifter

Writer-director Marc Price made his debut with the famously cheap British zombie film Colin (est. cost £45) but has been climbing the budget ladder a bit – though his action thriller Nightshooters was on the underfunded side.  Here, with not that much of an increase in resources, Price delivers on an ambitious science fiction film, involving an effects-heavy space battle sequence and some struggling through alien terrain filmed on impressively stark Icelandic locations.  It’s a bit short on dunes and drifting, so perhaps the title is a homage to those oddly meaningless science fiction quickie names of the VHS era (Terminal Force, Total Reality, Mindstorm, etc).

A force of two-person space fighters zooms through hyperspace to the Erebus System where human colonists are skirmishing with the implacable Drekks, who have launched vicious, unprovoked strikes against Terra Prime.  After a costly battle, one ship crashlands on a nearby inhospitable planet and Adler (Phoebe Sparrow), the gunner, struggles to improvise a way out after the death of the pilot Yaren (Daisy Aitkens).  She has a particular issue I’ve never seen in a science fiction film before, that her hair falls over her face inside her helmet and she’s no way of shifting it, but also realises that she might be able to scavenge a replacement part for the ship from an enemy cruiser which has landed nearby – but she’ll have to fight for it.

This doesn’t take the Enemy Mine or even Robinson Crusoe on Mars route of alien species eventually overcoming their differences to survive, and instead plays like a 1943 war film of implacable hatreds – influenced a little by Starship Troopers, but with no satirical intent – as a not-necessarily-tough space soldier has to battle her own annoying equipment (at one point, she’s asked for codes she doesn’t have only to find that the factory reset 12345 gets her into the system) and then hop up on adrenaline and use cunning to tackle the physically superior, morally repugnant Drekks (gasmask-wearing black rubber-clad goons).  It’s a simple, gritty story with few frills – we don’t need the heroine’s backstory to care whether she survives – and a nice sense of widescreen spectacle.  Considering that it probably cost less than, say, the Asylum’s glum space opera ripoff Battle Star Wars, this is a solid win for Britain.



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