Ex Drummer, the debut film from Koen Mortimer, leaves you feeling invigorated and disgusted --as if you'd just taken a shower in a high-pressure blast of hot sewage. Ex Drummer takes one of the oldest standby rock film plots -- the battle of the bands -- and sends it on down a road to hell paved with bleak absurdity and grim energy. It's hard to watch. It's even harder to stop watching.
Our hero -- but he isn't -- is Dries (Dries Vanhegen), a successful novelist who lives in one of those Fortress of Solitude-looking high-end apartments where he can look down on the city that made him. One day three musicians come to call -- they're looking for a drummer. There's a music festival coming up they want to play, and win. They figure having a famous novelist on the traps might help with their novelty value. Their gimmick? They all have handicaps. Dries's handicap? He can't play the drums. Mortimer's film is adapted from a novel by Flemish author Herman Brusselmans, but the filmed version is an assault on your senses -- the clamor and squalor of every scene, the physical and moral rot so strong you can almost smell it coming off the screen.
Oscar Wilde said we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Dries isn't looking at the stars: he's looking at the drain, wondering just how far down it goes. ... The band (dubbed The Feminists for extra shock value) includes a bassist with a stiff arm, a deaf guitarist and a lead singer with a taste for aggravated sexual assault. It's not Dries's usual crowd. That makes it all the more appealing to him. He's using the band. The band's using him. This can't possibly end well.