If you told me HOVER was sent to us from the future, I wouldn’t have many follow up questions. I’d nod along and say “of course in the future drones would doom us all”. Unfortunately, as much as I appreciate the realism of the plot, it does result in a rather tame film. Despite that, there’s a lot to like here–so let’s unpack it.
In the near future, a food shortage forces us to deploy drones that help maximize our agricultural gains on the limited land available. That in and of itself feels like it’s ripped right out of tomorrow’s headlines. Drones are ubiquitous in a way that seems particularly rational. At a point early on there is a brief exchange between our protagonist Claudia, (played by writer Cleopatra Coleman) and her partner John about an encounter she just had with a drone. The casual tone adds so much to the feeling that this is how things are–and have been for quite a while. Claudia and John work as Transitioners, a service for assisting suicides. Most of their patients are cancer-ridden, and the job Claudia and John perform is humane and necessary in a bleak world where literally every mouth counts. After John ‘mysteriously’ dies, Claudia is given a new partner and from there things mildly rotate out of control. Basically, the shit hits the fan, and it’s up to Claudia to expose the truth to the world.
HOVER is filled with clever concepts that are just far enough ahead of our time to feel like Cleopatra Coleman is a futurist worth paying attention to. It’s all very believable. The voice controls, for example, feel like where we’re going to be in the very near future. We’re only a few generations away from speaking so naturally to our devices. The virtual pets are also really origina and plausible. I’ll always judge a science fiction movie based on their concept of future tech, and HOVER has a number of really noteworthy ideas.
Technically HOVER has some ups and downs. On one hand, there is a low budget feel to the production that can be distracting. One might describe it as amateurish. Honestly, something about it reminds me a bit of SHARKNADO and makes me wonder, in the wrong hands, if this could easily turn into ‘Hovernado’ with future editions. On the other hand, HOVER is very often beautifully shot. The scene I mentioned previously where Claudia comes face to face with a drone was impressive. The sight of the drone side by side with Claudia in the same frame is brief but striking. There are a bunch of moments like this watching HOVER. The blocking was another aspect that I noticed and liked. There’s a stage play like quality to it makes the film stand out.
Speaking of standing out. The music direction in HOVER is an absolute highlight. It’s well-timed and manages to build tension without overstaying its welcome. Some of my favorite moments came from a well-placed number and a beautifully shot scene.
You might be noticing a trend with HOVER, but the acting and writing are also a mixed bag. Acting wise, most of the performances are fine. Some were noticeably stilted. And while lead actor Cleopatra Coleman is perfect as Claudia, she has a humanity to her that lends to the believability that she’d take a job assisting with suicides for the good of the world. And who doesn’t love Beth Grant? Come on, the only people that don’t like Beth Grant are monsters, and you’re no monster are right? Good.
On the writing front, HOVER doesn’t strive to do much beyond its premise. Because of that, the plot is laughably predictable. If you could see my notes, I lay out the entire plot of the movie within the first 10 minutes, and if you think too much about my review, you can figure it all out too. There really isn’t much more to it. While most of the events are paced appropriately enough, there is one moment in the movie that really bothered me. It’s supposed to play out as a ‘eureka’ moment, but it falls flat. I’m left wondering if they ran out of money towards the end of the film because the ending feels abrupt in a way that wasn’t originally planned out.
And that sort of sums up HOVER. It has a very specific message it wants to get out, and for the most part, it’s well executed– but perhaps it’s too simple or too straightforward. A true plot twist could have done wonders. Which is unfortunate because it mars an otherwise fine movie. Save for a few gory scenes, it doesn’t strive for a lot of practical horror either. Existentially speaking; however, it terrifies because it’s a reality we are gleefully marching towards. Perhaps there’s an important, deeper message to be had, then. No matter how mild your doom is, it’s still the end, and there’s nothing more horrifying than that.
HOVER is in theaters and video on demand July 29