So it may not be the Dune we were looking for back in Dec 2020, but with the Frank Herbert adaptation rained off due to public health issues, Marc Price steps in with a cheeky slice of sci-fi action that offers some minor but genuine attractions for the committed sci-fi fan. Dune Drifter is a proper sci-fi action film, made on a budget; the director famously made a zombie film, Colin, for just £45, but that’s something of an albatross around his neck now. Dune Drifter looks as good as many blockbusters due to some smart, old-school choices, but does it work as narrative?
Adler (Phoebe Sparrow) crash-lands on the planet Erebus after an elaborate outer-space dogfight; together with pilot Yaren (Daisy Aitkens), she has to figure out a way off the rock. Standing in her way is some kind of mutated being; mix Enemy Mine and Hell in the Pacific, and you’ll know what kind of film to expect as Adler and Yaren face a tough struggle to survive, and a hand-to-hand confrontation with the deadly opponent who seeks to snuff them out.
A week’s shoot in Iceland gives Dune Drifter the look it needs for the alien planet, without having to hit the same green-screen switch that most films hit all too readily. But it’s the space-action that’s more impressive, by dint of practical choices; those who dug the dirty space look of 70’s classics like Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica should apply here. Although filmed in a UK living room, the results look dynamic enough to keep the attention, and make Dune Drifter a cut above the average.
Pacing, however, is an issue here; once we get to Erebus, things slow down, and there’s not quite enough narrative for the 90 minutes, leading to a rather drawn-out finale. That said, many bigger and supposedly better films make the same mistake; Dune Drifter could have used a couple more script-polishes before going into production. But as with Colin, Dune Drifter is a calling card that shows that all concerned can take on Hollywood at their own game and emerge with some success; I watched this on the glitch-tastic BAFTA voting hub, where it was, like everything else indie, roundly ignored by voters, but it’s a minor discovery, and one worth recommending to those who seek futuristic viewing action…
Thanks to Dead Pixel Productions for access to this film. Trailer and link below.