Directed by Tim Sullivan
Starring Ricky Ullman and Dallas Page
Tim Sullivan followed up fan favorite "2001 Maniacs" with a more serious fear film, one that tries quite hard to function as a drama. Unfortunately, the best moments in "Driftwood" harken back to the campiness of "2001." "Driftwood" doesn't deliver much in terms of scares or drama.
When it opens, "Driftwood" feels like it will be an interesting "Twilight Zone"-style story. A young man is "arrested" and brought to what is apparently a prison. He soon learns that he was actually brought there because his parents wanted him "rehabilitated" after reading some journal entries he wrote. He's been taken to Driftwood, a place where young men are corrected so they won't become Littleton-style maniacs. The facility is run by Captain Kennedy (Page), a sadistic ex-marine. There are just a few other boys at the facility, and one is missing. Not surprisingly, the missing boy is a casualty, and his ghost haunts the place.
The concept might suit a short story or an episode of "Masters of Horror." But stretching it out over 90 minutes doesn't quite cut it. Add to that the film's sentimentality, a budget clearly strethed to thin and low-scare quotient, and you're left with a less-than-satisfying thriller. A big step down from "2001 Maniacs."
In order for the film to work, you really need to buy the idea that a pseudo-prison like Driftwood could actually exist. The film weaves in references to Littleton to make it seem like, maybe, a place like this could emerge in today's troubled society. But it's impossible to buy the concept. A place like it could not exist in America today.
Add to that the dozen-or-less "inmates" the prison contains -- a sign of an over-stretched budget -- and it becomes even more difficult to buy.
Much of the "mystery" the story covers revolves around what the prison is being used for. It turns out, corruption. Like a lot of ghost stories, there's a murder victim reaching out from the grave for justice, and a living breathing being (our hero) connects with the spirit to unravel a mystery, then meet out the justice. We saw this sort of thing in "Stir of Echoes" and "What Lies Beneath."
Combine that with a mostly male cast, and you've got a flat film. Sure, male-centric horror movies can be awesome when they work. "Session 9" comes to mind. But, sadly, it doesn't work here.