Driven

Have you ever thought about how annoying it would be to work for Uber, Lyft, or any kind of ride-sharing service? Drunk people, couples fighting, groups of teenagers, and I’d say drunk people again just for good measure. Emerson Graham (Casey Dillard, who also wrote the screenplay) is a stand-up comedian, and like a lot of stand-up comics before they hit the big time, she needs a second job. She works for Ferry, an Uberesque driving app.

We see Emerson pick up some real characters within the first few minutes of Driven, and then she picks up Roger (Richard Speight, Jr.). He is definitely not friendly, but he is willing to pay Emerson handsomely if she drives him to multiple destinations, in silence, to do God knows what. Emerson is up for it at first until things get progressively shadier and eventually, they get pulled over by the cops. At which point things turn to the completely unexpected.

“…but as soon as you think you know what’s happening, some ‘for lack of a better word…demons’ come into the picture…”

At first glance, Driven seemed to be a comedic take on Collateral,  which would have been interesting in an of itself, but as soon as you think you know what’s happening, some “for lack of a better word…demons” come into the picture, making this a sort of Collateral meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer situation, taking place in Tupelo, Mississippi of all places.

Director Glenn Payne (who also plays Jim in the film) and writer Casey Dillard have worked together on several projects and are part of the acting/improv troupe West of Shakerag. Driven is the latest of several film projects that the group has worked on together and that is something I greatly appreciate…a team of like-minded creatives that operates outside of the major studio cities such as Los Angeles, New York, or even Atlanta that is making consistently entertaining films.   

“…a team of like-minded creatives that operates outside of the major studio cities…”

Driven is a short and sweet supernatural romp that never gets boring and somehow manages to pack laughs into what could be a very intense storyline in another film. Richard Speight Jr. as Roger is a great straight man to Casey Dillard’s sarcastic stand-up, Emerson. And even though Driven is a comedy by most accounts does not mean that it’s missing out on thrills. I also can’t fail to mention that it is really well shot and somehow doesn’t get boring for taking place mostly inside of a car. The limitation of the set makes for some fun and interesting filming choices.

If you enjoy Buffy in either form or True Blood, you will enjoy Driven, even though it doesn’t have a  nearly naked Alexander Skarsgard in it.  I have a particular soft spot for films made in the South because I’m from there, but I’m serious when I say that I think it’s important to support people making films outside of the studio system regardless of where they’re located geographically. These groups are where all the fresh talent comes from, which is something that the filmmakers and actors behind Driven aren’t lacking. It’s a fun movie, y’all, so check it out!

Driven (2019) Written by Casey Dillard. Directed by Glenn Payne. Starring Casey Dillard, Richard Speight Jr., Glenn Payne, Andy Field, Jessica Hatchcock, Bill Luckett, Jennifer Hamilton Collins, Leah Hudspeth, Nicholas Roylance

8 out of 10 stars

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