Aggro Dr1ft Review – IGN

This review is based on a screening at the 2023 Venice International Film Festival.

Aggro Dr1ft: A Unique and Unsettling Cinematic Experience

Aggro Dr1ft, the latest film from director Harmony Korine, is a polarizing and unconventional piece of cinema that challenges its audience. While many viewers walked out during its screenings at the Venice Film Festival, those who connect with its peculiar wavelength will find it to be rewarding and unsettling. Shot entirely with a thermal camera and drawing inspiration from video games, Aggro Dr1ft is a hallucinatory journey into the depths of hell.

An Unconventional Visual Experience

The most striking aspect of Aggro Dr1ft is its unconventional use of infrared photography. Urban landscapes are transformed into psychedelic paintings as colors morph and flash in various hues. This constant flux in the camera settings renders the human form uncanny and formless, stripping away facial features while emphasizing crucial details. This loss of detail, although disorienting, adds a gamified element to the viewing experience, blurring the line between reality and video game aesthetics.

Connecting Film and Gaming Realities

As violence unfolds in Aggro Dr1ft, the film’s characters seem to be connected to a phantasmagorical virtual reality. The ski masks they wear become symbols of ritual, with demonic horns sprouting atop them. Through thermal imaging, traditional filming and CGI elements blend seamlessly and transform into physical manifestations of thought, theme, and morality. This unique perspective allows viewers to glimpse the inner workings of the characters, revealing blood, bone, biomechanical body parts, and symbolic designs.

Dehumanized Characters and Enhanced Movements

The characters in Aggro Dr1ft move with enhanced gestures and higher frame rates, contributing to their robotic quality. Their lines, often delivered in an expository and stilted fashion, are overshadowed by the film’s thundering score. Even the primary antagonist, a demonic thug with angel wings, embodies video game tropes. These characters, viewed through the disturbed perspective of the protagonist Bo, lack depth and individuality, reinforcing the film’s pathologically evangelical conception of guilt, penance, and religious extremism.

A Satirical Reflection of Modern Society

By filtering Aggro Drift through a gaming lens, Harmony Korine engages in cultural satire. The film completes the feedback loop by presenting a video-game-like reality as an evil entity, highlighting the societal blame placed on video games for violence. In this world, people are reduced to two-dimensional shapes and cultural signifiers, disposable and waiting to be slaughtered. Aggro Dr1ft takes an individualistic and nihilistic viewpoint, challenging viewers to interpret meaning from the collapse of images, shapes, and textures.

A Unique and Mesmerizing Experience

Aggro Dr1ft offers a visceral sensory experience that, although occasionally repetitive, remains fascinating to look at, think about, and even chuckle at for its juvenile sensibilities. The film’s gimmick may seem simple, but its inversion of visual perception and the collapse of images create a mesmerizing effect. While assassin stories are common in cinema, none have captured attention quite like Aggro Dr1ft.