WRITER: Koen Mortier (screenplay), Herman Brusselmans (novel)
DIRECTOR: Koen Mortier
dries is a famous writer. one day three losers ring his buzzer and ask him to be the drummer in their band. sounds like that could be the start of a funny, family-friendly rock and roll movie right? well, IT ISN'T! it is the start of the flemish film, Ex Drummer.
dries decides to accept their offer because he sees a great story/book in it. he sees the ability to manipulate and have fun with them as a way of generating his next work. now, while that starts to give you a sense of the dark tone of the film, a simple synopsis will not suffice or really give you any indication what you are in for when you decide to sit down and press play.
it doesn't take long to realize this isn't gonna be a "normal" film. after an opening monologue from dries we listen to him telling us about each of the three men that came to his home as we watch them in reverse moving away from his buzzer backwards along the path they took to get to his place as the credits for the film appear on various landmarks, people and items along the way.
the film straddles the line between reality and experimental cinema and it does it very well. you would think that a movie in which one of the characters lives upside down in his apartment (walks on the ceiling, while people in his place walk on the floor), and characters that die give a bloody post-death monologue/statement to the camera would have a hard time keeping itself at all grounded to any kind of reality. but, alas not. i will also tell you that you probably aren't going to like any of the characters and i don't think director koen mortier cares.
i didn't notice it the first time i watched the film, but in rewatching the opening, i noticed that the credit after the title is "an eyemotional film experience." and this pretty much sums it up. Ex Drummer is an experience.
while i do think calling it an experience is very appropriate, mortier does a great job of not letting the "experimental/experience" nature of the film and the film making to completely overpower the story. this isn't always easy to do. either the movie becomes completely form over substance or the film makers don't have the confidence in their "form" or "substance" to follow through completely and it feels half-baked on both counts. and say what you will about Ex Drummer, but there is no way one of those things you say will be "half-baked."
some things you could say though, would be: bloody, dark, violent, intelligent, gruesome, loud, sexual, disturbing and unrepentant. and just in case you skimmed the list and weren't paying attention, let me again mention bloody and violent. and this isn't hollywood violence where 30 guys get gunned down and another 20 get beat up and we sit there smiling digging into our bag of popcorn.
this is bloody, intimate and disturbing violence that confronts you in style and form. now, not all the violence in the film is that way and, if i think back over the whole movie, there really isn't a lot of it. but, the films climax - obviously the last thing i saw and so it is most on my mind - is really what i am referring to.
koen mortier is a director that had a vision for this film. a vision that is, to use an over used film critic term, uncompromising. it might be too much for some, but everyone who watches it is definitely in for an "experience." and in my opinion - a very good one.