“White Drift” (2016): Drifting Stranger Searches for Answers in Character-Driven Horror Short


Bonfire Films, the Maine-based production company responsible for such winning horror shorts as Tickle (2014, reviewed here) and an adaptation of Stephen King’s Suffer the Little Children (2015, reviewed here), is back with another solid effort, White Drift (2016). From the husband and wife filmmaking team of Corey and Haley Norman, this short follows the ill-fated decision of an army veteran to try and locate his friend in a small town that has some unpleasant recent memories.

Peter (Sean Carmichael, of American Poltergeist) travels on foot to the town where his army buddy Sam (Damien Maffei, of The House That Cried Blood and Christmas with the Dead) grew up. When he stops in at a diner to get his bearings and some coffee, it is obvious that the locals don’t take a shine to strangers. Peter seems distanced and troubled but waitress Abby (Kristi Ray, of Pieces of Talent and Beyond the Living) shows sympathy toward him.

Peter (Sean Carmichael) seems troubled; Abby (Kristi Ray) tries to help him feel more comfortable amidst the stares of local diner patrons in Bonfire Films’ horror short White Drift.

Peter displays obvious signs of physical distress and possibly addiction as he searches for Sam.  Even though he seems reluctantly thankful for Abby’s efforts toward friendship, he is single-minded in his quest to find his friend. When viewers slowly start putting the puzzle pieces together, White Drift starts building in the horror department, working its way to a thrilling climax.

Sean Carmichael portrays Peter, an army veteran who is going through some symptoms that seem to point to an addiction of some kind.

The short starts off with a slow burn, unraveling clues about Peter, settling viewers into the small-town setting, and allowing them to form allegiances. Sean Carmichael is intriguing as Peter; he does a fine job of showing the mental and physical anguish through which his character is going. The character of Abby seems a bit overly eager in her effort to befriend this stranger, but Kristi Ray does a wonderful job of bringing her character to life and invests her with an honest-feeling earnestness. Damien Maffie impresses in his brief but important appearance.

Screenwriter Haley Norman has written a compelling screenplay ripe with engaging drama and steadily building chills. Director Corey Norman helms the proceedings marvelously, with a keen eye for composition and an adept sense of pacing. This team knows how to put together exciting horror shorts and this latest effort is a fine one, examining the psychological ramifications behind what Peter is experiencing.

Kristi Ray gives a fine turn as Abby, a waitress who is concerned about the condition of drifter Peter.

I’m being deliberately vague about exactly what type of horror White Drift deals with because I think viewers will enjoy the payoff of the final sequence more this way. With that said, I do want to give credit to the special effects and makeup teams, as they have created a striking being that helps make that final sequence a surprising, pulse-pounding one.

White Drift: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.