Directed by Koen Mortimer
Starring: Dries Van Hegen, Norman Baert, Gunter Lamoot
“Nihilism is not only despair and negation, but above all the desire to despair and to negate”
There have been several great films about punk rock and the people that create this music: The Filth and The Fury, The Decline of Western Civilization, Sid and Nancy and What We Do Is Secret, just to name a few. So, where does Ex-Drummer, a violent little nugget from Belgium, fit in the cinematic coverage of this music genre?
Based on the novel by the same name written by Herman Brusselmans, Dries (Dries Van Hegen) is a writer by trade. However, Dries life is about to take a turn.
He is approached by three musicians who want him to be the new drummer in his band. Now this band is unlike any ever assembled before: the guitarist is deaf, the bass player is from a family of psychotics and the lead singer despises women so intently, he will nearly beat women to death if he gets a chance. It doesn’t matter that Dries can’t play drums; they just want him to complete this weird assembly of misfits.
This band doesn’t have long range plans. They just want to play Devo’s song “Mongoloid” one time together for a music competition. So Dries joins up and proceeds to take his band members on a ride to hell because he is far more calculating, violent and dangerous than they could ever imagine.
Ex Drummer is the kind of movie that is really going to divide an audience: you are either going to love its dark and nihilistic view on the world and its inhabitants or you are going to find it to be a mindless exercise in depravity and violence. I personally like soulless little films like this, so I dug it.
Don’t look for any deep character development in a film like this, which is not what you are here for in an experience like this. This is lightning flash of aggression, bloodshed, explicit sex and detachment. It is supposed to hit you like a cheap shot to the gut and knock the wind out of you and on that basis, this film succeeds.
Koen Mortimer, a first time filmmaker, impresses even though he doesn’t have much of a budget to work with in this film. He already shows an impressive eye for composition and the film has an energetic and fresh feel. Mortimer has been compared with Gaspar Noe (Irreversible) and Michael Haneke (Funny Games) and I can see why that comparison would be made. He is in very good company and Mortimer is a name to watch for in the future, just based on the strength of this film.
Through research I learned that Mortimer had a terrible time getting funding to make this film. It isn’t your everyday film producer that wants to fund a film with mindless violence and rape as its centerpiece. This is not a film that will elicit a weak reaction.
The actors in the film give authentic performances and that couldn’t have been easy given the subject matter. Of particular note, Dries Van Hegen as Dries gives a visceral performance.
So, you know from what you have read in this review if this is going to be your cup of tea. And while I am glad that I don’t know anyone like Dries, I enjoyed spending this time with him.
Ex Drummer is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The black levels are respectable and despite the low budget nature of the film, the transfer is decent. This isn’t going to look like Avatar on Blu Ray, but as always, Palisades Tartan does a great job.
Ex-Drummer is presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround. The dialogue is crystal clear and well mixed. This is a solid presentation that compliments the fine transfer of the film well.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Ex Drummer is presented in a standard amaray case with good old Dries on the cover.
There are some interesting bonus features to peruse on this release. First up, an informative Making Of featurette is offered where cast and crew talk about what it took to bring this madness to the screen.
Rounding things out in this section, two versions of the trailer for the film and music videos.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (not an average) 7/10