Cult Cinema: Ex Drummer (2007) - Reviewed

Three disabled miscreants begin looking to form a punk rock band in Ostend, West Flanders for a one-time only performance.  Their search brings them upon famed novelist Dries (Dries Vanhegen) with the offer that he play the drums given his own ‘handicap’ is that he can’t actually play them.  They only plan to perfect and cover one song: Devo’s Mongoloid.  Unbeknownst to the drug and alcohol guzzling reprobates, however, Dries has far more Machiavellian goals percolating for his latest novel and he begins to manipulate his fellow bandmates psychologically into destroying each other for his own amusement.
Based on Herman Brusselmans’ 1994 novel of the same name, Belgian film director Koen Mortier burst out of nowhere onto the world cinema scene in 2007 with his explicit rock mockumentary shocker Ex Drummer, a searing, occasionally funny and often angry chunk of nihilism confronting the gulf between the id and the general population.  Dries is a new, different kind of evil pop cultural icon who gets off with his loyal wife on the exploitation of his bandmates. 

At times playing like a hardcore Danny Boyle film on crack including a fascinating technical sequence where Dries converses with a bandmate who is laying upside down in his bed on the ceiling.  This is one of many scenes shot upside down, making the viewer’s perspective on what is up or down that much more confused.  Even the film’s poster is printed with a character standing upside down on the ceiling.
The film also is dripping from corner to corner with music, making this a kind of utterly revolting and mean spirited The Decline of Western Civilization.  Featuring real Belgian bands Millionaire and singer Flip Kowlier, at times this occasionally pornographic film’s interspersal with musical numbers made my thoughts drift back to a certain Michael Winterbottom film called 9 Songs or the Artsploitation film Gandu with how it freely mixes music with sex. 

Ex Drummer
is neither easy to recommend nor watch.  It is an ugly take on a man’s God complex and how his libido is fueled not by sex but by his power to completely influence the self-destruction of others.  Though occasionally darkly comic, this was a rough and frequently bleak ride about one of the most evil characters in fiction flexing his claws and enjoying the death and destruction being created in his wake.  Not for all tastes but it will leave an unshakable mark with you.

--Andrew Kotwicki