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Drive Thru

Directed by Shane Kuhn, Brendan Cowles

Written by Shane Kuhn, Brendan Cowles

Starring Leighton Meester, Nicholas D’Agosto, Melora Hardin, Larry Joe Campbell

Produced by Chris Sievernich, Matthew Weaver, Matt Milich, Martin Wiley

Rated R

91 minutes

***

“Drive Thru” is going to be one of the best cases of grand theft movie you’ve ever seen.

In the scenic and wholly boring, at least to its teenage denizens, Orange County suburbia of Blanca Carne (White Meat! Ha!), something’s going very wrong for some of those teenage denizens. Namely, they’re getting killed. And in an extremely messy, horror-movie-style fashion with loads of dismemberment, lacerations, and blunt force trauma like no tomorrow. Behind the killings is the mascot for the local burger chain, Hella Burger.

Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I always sort of wondered if Ronald McDonald or that creepy, creepy King from the Burger King commercials was living some kind of secret double life where mass murder was just foreplay. And after watching Horny the Clown—chop-happy, air-humping, wisecracking Horny the Clown—in action, it made me look just a little more askance as the perpetually plastic features of the new King.

Which is probably what they were gunning for. And it’s funny. There’s a lot of humor to be had in “Drive Thru”; watching two stoners rampage through a ball pit before meeting their inevitable date with Horny is inspired fun! No two ways about it! The white rapper boy wannabe who makes Jamie Kennedy look downright ghetto-authentic by comparison that’s the first to die, the horrific prices at the Hella Burger, the laugh-riot commercials from the Hella Burger (the whole Triple-X Wings sketch is to die for)…there’s no shortage of fun in “Drive Thru.” They even had the sheer comic balls to throw in Morgan Spurlock, for crying out loud! Mr. “Super-Size-Me” himself in a movie about a fast food killer? That’s paying attention!

But it’s what happens when you find out why the killings are going on that you start to wonder what’s going on here. Especially given what I said in the first sentence.

Because, as you’ll discover, Kuhn and Cowles are taking a whole lot of pages out of the Wes “Nerve Gas” Craven playbook. When you put “Drive Thru”in a side-by-side comparison with “Nightmare on Elm Street,” you’re going to spot a hella lot of coincidences. The wisecracking, superdeformed slasher with the superhuman capabilities, for example. The fact that the children of local parents are the ones being targeted—and the only ones, no less!

Now here’s the really sad part—Wes, buddy…you’re screwed. Kuhn and Cowles have just taken your best work and shut it down. “Drive Thru” is almost identical to “Nightmare on Elm Street,” only it’s wildly, wildly funnier. Sure, the effects are actually better too, but that can’t be held against NOES.

Yes, “Drive Thru” is funny, bloody, and as cheesy as a Triple Hella Patty Melt, but it’s still kinda good. It’s part Fred Kreuger, part Ronald McDonald, and all fun.

The ending only goes to prove that you should just not get involved with them Carpenter women, because it’s like mother like daughter around there—trust me on that one—and there’ll be twist enough to suggest that if “Drive Thru 2: Drive Harder” isn’t already being shot, it’s probably being planned. No, that’s not advance news. That’s just me being snarky.

The special features include some audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, English closed captions and trailers for the After Dark Horrorfest, “Shadow Walkers,” “Curse of the Zodiac,” “Diary of a Cannibal,” “Beneath Still Waters,” “The Lost Room” and Fearnet.com.

All in all, sure, it’s a ripoff. But when the ripoff is better than the original, what can you do but call it good?

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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