One night in Los Angeles Uber driver Russell (A J Bowen) picks up Charlotte (Sophie Dalah) only for her to slip him $200 if he'll promise to wait while she pops into a friend's house to collect something which turns out to be a small makeup box cast members insist on calling a suitcase (maybe it was one in the original script? Who knows.) As a result the rest of his night involves death, deceit, and a very strange room indeed.
Premiering at this year's Frightfest and getting a digital release from 101 Films, NIGHT DRIVE is the latest entry in a genre that could be described as 'character led unwittingly astray in a city at night'. Other examples would include Martin Scorsese's witty and superior AFTER HOURS (1985) and 2019's Frightfest entry, the low budget, entertaining and also rather witty DRIVEN.
NIGHT DRIVE is played serious, which is a bit of a shame as a somewhat lighter tone might have helped add an extra layer to what is a pretty thin premise that feels drawn out and padded even for the film's scant 75 minute (minus credits) running time. Twenty minutes from the end the contents of Charlotte's little case are revealed and at this point in the film the revelation feels a little desperate, as if the film-makers got to that point and realised they needed to think of something a little offbeat.
It's not a terrible film by any means, and some of the dialogue exchanges are endearing, especially the discussion about favourite Xmas songs. Ultimately, however, everything that this film deals with has been done better in movies that have gone before it (and some on a similar low budget). It's probably too much of a pun to say your mileage may vary with this but as it's in keeping with a film that doesn't have a single original idea in it that's what I'm going to end with.
NIGHT DRIVE is out on Digital from 101 Films on Monday 11th October 2021