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Image Entertainment presents

Driftwood (2006)

"Sorry to disturb your beauty sleep, ladies, but Mr. Forrester here has brought shame to Level One. So now Level One must shame him."- Captain Kennedy (Diamond Dallas Page)

Stars: Raviv Ullman, Diamond Dallas Page
Other Stars: Talan Torriero, David Eigenberg, Jeremy Lelliott, Cory Hardrict, Frankie Levangie, Shahine Ezell, David Skyler, Connor Ross, John Walcutt, Lin Shaye, Marc McClure, Baelyn Neff, Kim Morgan Greene, Lou Beatty Jr.
Director: Tim Sullivan

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and sexual references
Run Time: 01h:29m:46s
Release Date: 2007-11-13
Genre: suspense thriller

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Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C-BB+ B-

 

DVD Review

Driftwood comes from writer/director Tim Sullivan, whose unexpectedly hip 2005 gore/comedy 2001 Maniacs made a nice little ripple in the horror genre. This time the mood is more somber, set in a so-called attitude adjustment camp for wayward boys, run by the down home evilness of Captain Kennedy, played with a dangerous "aw shucks" charm by wrestler Diamond Dallas Page. New arrival David Forrester (Raviv Ullman) isn't sure why he's there (turns out he's a death-obsessed teen), but it isn't long before he's having visions of a pasty-faced dead guy wandering around the compound and before long a mystery about the death of a former inmate begins to resurface.

Here's a film that utilizes the assorted stock character check list, especially when it comes to the other inhabitants of the high security Level One area of Driftwood. The inmates all full of macho swagger (well maybe not the token gay character), spouting bravado and testosterone in excess, while the staff ranges from maniacal to kindly to crazy to tease, depending on which broad caricature needs to be filled at that moment. This one-note texture of the characters is the film's largest problem, one that prevented me from gaining any sort of personal attachment to any one in particular, including Ullman's lead David. I wasn't concerned with what might happen to any of them, with the possible exception of Baelyn Neff—as the obligatory uber-sexy warden's daughter—who makes eating watermelon slices and drinking with a straw seem positively pornographic.

There are base elements of Cool Hand Luke and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in Driftwood, which is not to say this film is on par with those classics. It's more like a teen-flavored variant on those general themes of a strong-willed outsider suddenly thrust into a group of colorful types under a sadistic authority figure, presented here with a weak central mystery that is never all that mysterious. The ghostly visions seem a little out of place, and have that feel of being added just to give some unnecessary supernatural texture to the whole thing. The character of David could have easily stumbled upon the main "what happened to the kid that died?" plot without the help of a spirit to lead him, though it does provide a convenience factor for what happens in the third act.

The soundtrack is filled with a bunch of thematically appropriate yet blandly generic rock songs, with lyrics like "set me free", etc, so maybe the target crowd for this one is the teenage set who aren't looking for anything especially deep meaning. Diamond Dallas Page, full of hammy good-old-boy authority, makes for a solid heavy, while Lin Shaye and Marc McClure do their parts well with small roles as David's sincerely concerned parents. Even with that, Driftwood seems to go in the wrong direction, and with a 2001 Maniacs sequel due out next year maybe Sullivan realizes that too.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Driftwood has been issued in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Nice looking overall, with a palette that is fairly dark, carrying deep blues and dark reds in many of the sequences. Edge details are generally sharp, balanced by warm, natural fleshtones. A couple of specking issues were also evident, but these instances were brief and very minor.

Image Transfer Grade: B
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Image comes through with a surprising well-rounded audio section, sporting mixes in DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround. Kicks, punches and music stingers have a very deep presence via the DTS and 5.1, yet overall the surround cues are modestly used. Voice quality is clear throughout, with no hiss or distortion.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
9 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
4 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Tim Sullivan, Chris Kobin, Diamond Dallas Page
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Perhaps a bit excessive, Driftwood contains two commentary tracks, the first featuring writer/director Tim Sullivan and writer/producer Chris Kobin, while the second pairs Sullivan with actor Diamond Dallas Page. It seems these two could have been combined, yet the weird thing is I found Page to be a fairly engaging voice, even if his content isn't all that revelatory. Both tracks feature Sullivan elaborating on the personal roots of the project, though I'm curious how many people will feel the need to listen to one commentary, let alone two, for this film.

Through The Gauntlet: Inside The Walls Of Driftwood (28m:54s) is a spoiler heavy doc (there's even a warning at the beginning), though what it ends up being is a typical behind-the-scenes piece. Comments from Sullivan and the cast tread on the usual ground, though there's a revelation that actor David Skyler was actually in an attitude adjustment camp in Utah. Doing Time On The Set Of Driftwood (04m:29s) is basically a condensed version of the longer doc, with Sullivan expounding on what he refers to as the "Dark Horse sensibility" of the project.

An alternate ending (02m:57s) is available with an optional Tim Sullivan and Diamond Dallas Page commentary. The scene is in a workprint format, and tags on a somewhat more clearcut coda. The commentary here is worth a listen, as Sullivan comically relays what producer Bud Smith thought of this original ending. A block of 9 deleted scenes (07m:33s) also feature an optional Sullivan and Page commentary, and most of what is learned is that scenes were trimmed to keep the runtime down.

The Bloopers: The Barbequing Type (02m:02s) reel is fairly uneventful, though Audition Reel (14m:35s) is of moderate interest for those with an interest in seeing actors trying to become characters, or perhaps just Baelyn Neff in a fetching low-cut top.

Also included is an automated photo gallery (07m:43s) and a two-sided insert written by director Tim Sullivan discussing the personal origins of the Driftwood story. The disc is cut into 20 chapters.

Extras Grade: B-
 

Final Comments

Driftwood is sort of like a cross between Cool Hand Luke and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, only this time with teens. And not as interesting. The brutal attitude adjustment camp setting is a nice locale, but I never felt any connection to any of the characters, and I wasn't invested in caring what happened to any of them. The biggest surprise for me was the very watchable way wrestler Diamond Dallas Page carried himself as the abusive boss of the titular camp, giving this film its most intriguing character.

Rich Rosell 2007-11-14