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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Diamond Dallas Page, Ricky Ullma, Talan Torriero and David Eigenberg
Anchor Bay Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 30 March 2009

Fearing that their only other son is heading down the same slippery slope as his elder brother who died of a drugs overdose, 16-year-old David Forrester's parents have him forcibly taken and incarcerated in a juvenile correction facility with a difference. This one is called an attitude adjustment camp, and is run by the violent and sadistic Captain Kennedy and his two cohorts. Never one to accept rules easily, David finds it difficult to settle in, and things don't get any easier when a ghostly apparition begins regularly making itself known. When he confides his experiences to the seemingly sympathetic doctor, he is told it is a natural reaction to the death of somebody close. However, the ghostly figure is that of Jonathan, Captain Kennedy's nephew who mysteriously went missing from the facility. David has no choice but to uncover the truth. But will his fellow captives have the courage to help him...?

The media blurb for this film has it compared with Guillermo Del Toro's The Devil's Backbone. I hate it when a classic or original film from the past is invoked to sell a new release, but in this case there is a loose connection, although Del Toro is a master storyteller and The Devil's Backbone is told with infinitely more style (like Pan's Labyrinth, a sort of poetry). Having said that, I sat down fully expecting Driftwood to be one of a million mediocre or worse excuses for a horror movie and, as I often am, was pleasantly surprised by its direction. The sign of a good film is often how quickly it seems to go by, and I found myself curiously immersed in this one.

The horror element  is nicely underplayed, right until the end when the horrifying truth is laid bare. So what we get is more of a psychological mystery, but with a supernatural element which makes it part ghost story too.

The cast are all on top of their game - which is unusual in itself - particularly Captain Kennedy, played by Diamond Dallas Page, a former wrestler. Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen from the Christopher Reeve Superman films) plays David's father.

And that brings me nicely to the only part of the proceedings which didn't quite make sense. From what I can make out David's character isn't into drugs or partying every night like his rock star older brother, although he does drink and shirk rules. His real fault seems to be that he is really close to his brother and might see him as a role model. However, the reason given by the parents for David's incarceration is that he wrote in his journal that he wants to die to be with his brother. This sounds to me like a natural reaction to grief, so shoving him into a correction facility to be violently abused is extreme by any stretch of the imagination, and would only alienate him from them more. It's interesting to note that at the end David decides to hit the road, rather than go back home (which is the conclusion in the alternative ending).

This shouldn't detract from what is essentially a fine film, with much more going on than appears so on the surface. There is also the subplot of the Captain's underlying greed in moving from place to place and making a 'killing' on selling the land each time. In doing this he is inadvertently holding his own beautiful daughter as much of a prisoner as the boys.

Extras include the aforementioned alternative ending, deleted and extended scenes, two commentaries, a photo gallery, bloopers, two featurettes and a trailer.


Ty Power

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