Film Review: LIZ DRIVES, (Australia, Horror)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

An eight-minute gut-punch of a horror-thriller, LIZ DRIVES, is an Australian film by director Mia’Kate Russel. Liz drives with her sister (and a nurse) to a tense reunion with their mother when they pull over to get gum in a near-deserted road. But Liz’s sister is stopped by a distressed looking man who ushers her quickly into his car. Horrified as she watched the action play out from a distance, Liz sees a bloodied and screaming woman in the backseat of the man’s car- before he gets her sister in the vehicle and speeds off. Horrified Liz follows, but the car chase turns deadly when the other car veers off to avoid her and crashes.

When Liz rushes to the crashed vehicle, she finds the driver dead- along with her sister and the other woman in the back seat. The scene also reveals the other woman holding a screaming newborn. What Liz believed to be an abduction from afar, may very well have been her sister offering to help a terrified man trying to find assistance for his partner in labor.

 

This piece is a thriller on the surface- the fear and terror of the basic set up are palpable and tense. The gore associated with horror films is also present. But what is really terrifying isn’t the surface level plot- it is the implication. Real horror comes from the realization that our main characters assumptions of the situation may have lead to the untimely death of the young family.

Horror is born out of the gut-wrenching knowledge that the small infant screaming at the end of the film is now without parents- and Liz herself has a tense relationship with her own mother. Horror is created not by what has happened- but what will happen now. Liz has lost her sister, but she is also responsible for it. More subtly, there is a social message behind this piece. The main male character is a minority actor, and all other performers appear to be caucasian. All performances are excellent.  This specific choice in casting is notable as it cannot be divided from the ultimate message of the film. What appeared to Liz to be the abduction of a caucasian woman by a minority man, was, in reality, a young family. There are multiple levels of horror to LIZ DRIVES, which make is highly sophisticated for a film so short and so simple.

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