Director – Tim Sullivan
Cast – Ricky Ullman, Dallas Page, Talan Torriero, David Eigenberg, Lin Shaye, Marc McClure, Russell Sams, Baelyn Neff, Jeremy Lelliott, Cory Hardrict, Frankie Levangie, Shahine Ezell, David Skyler, Connor Ross
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Like most of us horror fans I first heard of Tom Sullivan due to his remake of the classic 1964 horror film Two Thousand Maniacs!, which Sullivan titled 2001 Maniacs. I had heard mainly negative remarks regarding this Sullivan follow up film to 2001 Maniacs, and I must say that I can not only understand the negative reviews, but if you go in expecting to see the zany antics we got in 2001 Maniacs you set yourself up for a true let-down. However if you go into this expecting a slower film with a devout social-commentary element then you may find this a positive watch.
Driftwood stars Ricky Ullman (lead moron from “Phil of the Future”) as David Forrester, a troubled 16 year old who becomes obsessed with death after the passing of his idol, his rock star older brother. David’s parents have had enough of his nonsense and have sent him to an “alternative center” named Driftwood, a former prison run much like a prison by the overzealous Captain Kennedy (Diamond Dallas Page; The Devil’s Rejects). At first David encounters the usual politics and corruption that goes on in such places, but soon enough he learns that Driftwood harbors a nasty secret, one that has been haunting him since his arrival.
Sound a lot like The Devil’s Backbone? Well, it not only sounds a lot like the film, but it looks like it at times as well. Anywho, I mentioned earlier that I had heard some negative remarks towards this flick, and from the get-go I really could not understand why because Sullivan’s direction had me locked on to what was going on. While the first act was enjoyable and did a fine job setting up the events that would ensue, I believe as far as execution it was the best act out of the three acts in the film. From then on out Driftwood lost steam and while it kept up the social-commentary the “horror” never fully satisfied me to the level I was expecting. I guess that is where the negative remarks came from.
It is obvious the film comes from the low-budget spectrum, but Sullivan did much with what he had at his disposal, and I think some people are very unforgiving towards the effects regarding the spirit that is haunting the facility. He did look a bit amateurish, but in a way it brought back the feel of the crappy horror movies I would rent back in high school, except that this one is actually not a really bad watch. it is unfortunate, however, because I did not find this flick to be the least bit scary or spooky, and that is mostly because of the look of the ghost and Sullivan’s execution. He seemed to be having more “fun” with his ghost than trying to spook us with it, and while that maybe worked for the select few reviewers who sold this film in their reviews, I must side the majority on that case. We get some positive performances from our leads Ricky Ullman and Diamond Dallas Page, and I found Page’s character to be especially fun to watch as he stole the show from everyone else in the film.
So how is the story overall? Well, despite this flick failing as a “ghost story” it did give me a very satisfying social element regarding the usage of such facilities and how you must be conformed to what society wants from you. You must be “productive” and give society what it apparently “deserves” and any “alternative” thought means you are a deviant, and not an individual. This has probably been better portrayed in other films but nonetheless Sullivan’s usage of this element was spot-on and did the job in my opinion.
Overall, this is a watch that I really could have enjoyed but in the end it just failed in all elements of horror, but excelled in elements not really relative to the genre. While I found those elements to be highly enjoyable, the majority of what goes on this film is easily forgotten and only worth your time if you have nothing better to do.