Cinepocalypse 2018: Hover (2018 - dir. Matt Osterman)
HOVER is one of those movies where the simplified description of a “killer drone” movie is both apt and misleading. Certainly, it does get to the good stuff, but not for a good long stretch. There’s more than a modicum of patience required, there is simply a need for it to be more polished and pleasurable. It’s not often where I grow restless if I trust the filmmaker, and this time around, there was a reasonable amount of thought processes that consisted of “when will this get good?”
That’s not to say it’s bad either. Co-writer and lead actress Cleopatra Coleman clearly has the chops to carry us along, as showcased in the past with her supporting turn on Will Forte’s wonderful THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. To use an old cliche, I fear that this story being told would’ve worked better as a half-hour short. HOVER takes place in the near future, where environmental strain has caused food shortages around the world. Technology provides a narrow path forward, with agricultural drones maximizing the yield from what land remains. Two compassionate care providers, Claudia (Coleman) and her mentor John (Craig muMs Grant), work to assist sick farmland inhabitants in ending their lives. After John dies under mysterious circumstances, a group of locals helps Claudia to uncover a deadly connection between the health of her clients and the technology they are using.
Technology gone awry is a theme that has been explored countless times and like a lot of recent genre offerings, brings very little to the table that hasn’t been explored better in the past. I think my expectation going in was more along the lines of TREMORS with drones, and that’s not too far of a stretch. The difference is though is that TREMORS knows when to take itself seriously and when not to. Tonal balance was key along with the very memorable characters. Here with HOVER, there are only few and far between moments and a showdown showcase that makes the experience worth your time. Clearly everyone here has a lot of imagination, but this particular narrative isn’t quite enough to sustain interest or involvement. The cast does the best they can particularly Coleman and reliable character actress Beth Grant. Director Matt Osterman supplies some inevitable drone POV shots, which are definitely cool at times, but the rest of the character motivations seem non-existent and/or sloppy. HOVER is one of those unfortunate experiences of a movie in search of itself, that feels a bit lost at the beginning only to redeem itself way too late in the game. The most fun I experienced outside of the final act was attempting to piece together a parody of "Mother" by Danzig in my head: "Hover! Tell those drones just to go away!"