Ex Drummer

Koen Mortier

BY Katarina GligorijevicPublished Feb 20, 2009

I loved Koen Mortimer's debut feature, Ex Drummer, a lot but I'm also aware of how difficult the film is. It's a raw, brutal, unflinching, violent, sexually explicit and (if you're into that sort of thing) totally hilarious story about a writer recruited to join a punk band. Dries is a famous author who's smug about, but also a bit bored by, his clean, cultured life. One day, three weird dudes arrive on his doorstep beseeching him to join their band. They need a drummer, just for one show. Dries agrees, expecting the experience to provide him with an adventure and perhaps some laughs. The band are called "the Feminists" and the band-mates are bonded because each is "disabled" in his own way — one's got a speech impediment, another is deaf, the third can't use his right arm properly. Every character in Ex Drummer is so messed up that it's hard to describe them all without making the whole film seem almost too insane to be watchable. And yet the potpourri of deranged misogynists, lunatic neglectful dads, closeted gay psychopaths brimming with bloodlust and violent drug addicts somehow makes for an emotionally poignant, incredible and often humorous drama. There's a surreal twist to some of the action in Ex Drummer — the lead singer lives upside down when he's at home, for example, but he's right side up the rest of the time. This oddity is never addressed or explained and somehow, it still works. There's also some crass humour thrown in, such as the bizarre scene that takes place literally inside a woman's vagina (an extension of a weird big penis joke that is carried through the entire film until its truly grotesque, bloody finale). Anti-hero Dries is played by DriesVanhegen, whose disaffected novelist is a masterful mélange of contemptible heartlessness and cool magnetism. The whole exhilarating and terrifying extravaganza feels like having a heart attack and then being stabbed repeatedly with an adrenaline needle to the heart. Unfortunately there are no extras but do yourself a favour and seek out the intensely thrash-worthy soundtrack, which features bands like Millionaire, Lightning Bolt and Ghinzu, among others.
(Mongrel Media)

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