“Horror gets Super Sized when Horny The Clown, the demonic mascot of ‘Hella-Burger,’ starts slashing Orange County teenagers with his meat cleaver from Hell.”
How could such a description leave any doubt in my mind that “Drive-Thru” was my Cheesy Movie destiny? Malin Ackerman in a romantic comedy about a dog, that’s how, but all good things come to those who wait and for now we have none other than Leighton Meester.
Where do I begin. For starters, she is very lovely don’t get me wrong, but she confuses me visually and on a visceral level that brings me back to the mid-’90s when Julia Salinger got every actress mugging and talking super affected and throughout the years, it’s morphed into the latest thing with young actresses, which is the refusal to move one’s mouth, a la Hayden Panettiere.
Somehow, Leighton Meester manages to embody all of that and it makes “Drive-Thru” feel like two different movies, one being a fairly scary/cheesy horror movie with a pretty awesome villain, and the other being a Lifetime movie made by the CW. It’s quite a ride.
Anyway, “Drive-Thru” starts out with two teen couples in a car smoking weed and listening to rap, and a girl is giving one of the guys a blow job, so obviously she’s going to die soon. They pull up to Hella-Burger, a clown-themed burger joint with Horny the Clown as the mascot, and the voice on the speaker which is shaped like a clown calls them wiggers and insults their girlfriends. One guy who has corn rows has a gun. He’s got his pride, for what reason I don’t know but he’s got it, and goes into the kitchen which is dark. Get used to this. The budget went entirely to the Horny scenes and Leighton Meester’s lip gloss, not so much for extras or electricity.
Corn Rows calls for “clown boy” and walks around with his gun tilted to the side. He goes into a walk-in and gets scared by a rat on the floor. “I’ll never eat this shit again,” he says, which is FORESHADOWING because he gets attacked by Horny now.
The other guy walks around now, wearing a sideways cap and holding his sideways gun and his shirt says “ILLEST.” He finds dead Corn Rows face-down in the hot grease, and pulls him out and Corn Rows’s face comes off, and it’s really disgusting. But no time for grossed outedness because it is TIME TO DIE. Horny goes, “Do you want fries with that?”
The other movie with Leighton Meester. She’s singing in an all-girl band which has a really elaborate setup at a party where there are like, three people. One couple is making out in a hot tub, so that is a portent of doom, and over on the bandstand the drummer is freaking out on the drums, and I really want her to calm down, no one plays the drums the way she is playing the drums.
This song is REALLY ANNOYING and won’t end.
But finally it does, and no one claps, which is one of my pet peeves that I think is totally rude. If I’m out with you, and there is live music (including karaoke) and you don’t clap or otherwise acknowledge the performance when it is done, I will like you less.
Except that Leighton Meester says “Thank you Cleveland!” so frankly she deserves to be shunned for that alone. Then she has a creepy conversation with her creepy boyfriend, saying she’ll be 18 soon and can have sex then and he asks her if she’s seen her ass, I guess indicating that this waiting (among other things) is really hard, but still that is really strange phrasing IMHO.
Then Leighton shakes up a can of soda and sprays it on the people in the hot tub because she is A Rebel and doesn’t like those people. She tells them to leave so she can smoke a joint in her room with her friends. Fair enough. They start playing with a Ouija board.
Do you ever have those dreams where you are in a play and you don’t know any of your lines, so you just kind of try to make it up as you go? That is how this scene felt to me. It seemed ad-libbed and I feel like Marisa Cooper could fiddle with a Ouija board more convincingly than this group of kids, and that is saying a LOT because Marisa Cooper can’t even hold a cup of lemonade convincingly. Somehow, this is worse. Leighton tries to communicate with the board, but nothing happens. So a curly-haired dude goes off for a “sure thing” booty call. Then Leighton and her boyfriend who was on “Heroes” talk about how he is going to New York and Leighton whines about being rich.
THEN! The Ouija board starts moving and spells out “N1KLPL8,” which matches a license plate on Leighton’s wall.
Switch to the girls from before asleep in the car. And it’s like, are they really that boring that they can’t hold down a conversation for ten minutes, or maybe they only use their mouths for blow jobs, but anyway they are sleeping, then wake up and their boyfriends are dead in the backseat. They scream and get killed. Oh and to add to the confusing class warfare subtext that actually has potential but goes nowhere, one of the girls before getting murdered says her dad is rich and can give Horny whatever he wants.
Requisite cop subplot where they are a wacky and misfitted pair, in this case, one hefty, old-school, simple cop and a lady cop who I think is supposed to be exotic and no-nonsense. They’re at the crime scene with the car and the dead teens and find out that “Highway to Hell” was playing when found. You’d think that would be a clue, or the beginning of a theme, but no, that plot point gets swiftly dropped because it is imperative that we get to…
…Leighton Meester’s backyard where her dad (or step dad? I don’t remember.) is cooking hamburgers and Jan Levinson(-Gould) is Leighton’s mom. Leighton says she doesn’t want a burger because she doesn’t “eat flesh” and calls baby boomers sellouts, which is kind of true. But overall Leighton Meester’s character reminds me of what a primetime network would think was an example of an Edgy Teen, and it’s pretty awkward. They’re watching the news, because what better accompaniment to a fun barbecue, and the reporter is named Anita Hill (…) and it’s the crime scene from the other movie. Leighton sees the license plate on the car, which matches her Ouija board message and the license plate on her wall, the latter of which makes no sense to me.
High school. Leighton’s camera is missing. She’s talking to her boyfriend and he creepily asks to tape her ass because she’s turning 18 soon. I don’t know. And she is supposed to be a virgin, like, I’m so sure. I was an older virgin, but I had reasons. She doesn’t seem to have any reason other than he’s already turned 18 and it would be illegal, but she already smokes pot and drinks and has that Hot-Topic quasi-anarchy thing going on, so like…whatever. I get that it’s tradition to need “pure” blood in teenage horror lore, but I am not buying this virgin thing one bit.
Anyway. Leighton picks up a magic eight-ball and it’s Horny sending her messages (obvi) and she asks why he’s doing this and he writes back, “A broken heart.” Barf.
The drummer from before is on the phone with Leighton. Drummer has a new heart tattoo because she is Edgy as well, and nothing says edgy like a small heart tattoo that Rachel Green got 15 years ago. Leighton Meester then has the unmitigated gall to ask, “Is it fly?” and it is at this point that I realize she is totally biting off Cher Horowitz’s mannerisms. But NO TIME to worry about this, as Horny has come for Drummer!
If it isn’t Our Fan from “That Thing You Do!” He is a janitor with messed-up teeth and acts creepy with Leighton in the school computer lab which is of course completely dark. But he is not creepy, because you don’t have to be rich and clean to be a good person, the movie reminds us, as Our Fan gives Leighton her camera that he found.
New scene. Leighton in a darkroom. Although in this movie that is a relative term. This darkroom has a red light to distinguish it from the others, and Leighton is hanging up pictures of her band.
But what is this! Pictures of the dead people, that’s what! And OMG a picture of Leighton herself!
HORNY THE CLOWN IS IN THE BUILDING! As the two movies come together and he grabs her but she kicks him in the balls and gets away. To be fair, this is a pretty scary scene due to the music playing and Horny’s being genuinely menacing.
Leighton runs through the (dark) hallway and into the gym. In another actually very scary scene, Drummer is tied to a chair with her head in a microwave, which you see…get microwaved and it’s really scary and really gross.
Leighton screams and tries to get out, but she is locked in the school! The clown comes over the speakers and she says she is calling the cops (lol) and he says she’s his girl now, and he is horny!
Our Fan, hung to death in the bathroom!
Leighton screaming, then running into a cop!
Random TV ad for Hella-Burger, with two girls in bikini tops kissing!
Now Leighton is at the jail. You know that scene that is in horror/Lifetime movies at the station with a frustrated woman whom no one will believe, and why won’t they listen, and yada yada yada? Well that scene takes place now. The cops tell her that kids’ toys do not equal evidence. So Leighton storms out and does that WB/CW-required thing where girls keep their hands under their sleeves and stick their arms straight out to indicate how exasperated yet adorable they are.
Then we are given an absolutely riveting scene of Leighton pose-sleeping in a chaise lounge, and the guitarist from her band and the curly-haired guy wake her up. Then they all “act.” Curly delivers one of the best lines of dialogue that I’ve ever heard:
“What I want to know is, what has this got to do with Horny the Clown? I grew up with that lovable son of a bitch. It’s like finding out Captain Kangaroo’s got pieces of Mr. Green Jeans in his freezer.”
Oh I forgot to mention the recurring “gag” about how the guy cop is named Crockers, but everyone calls him Crackers and it exasperates him.
So anyway, Crackers and Exotic Sidekick have a meeting with the owner of Hella-Burger. They find out that the Original Horny was the owner’s son and is is dead now.
Another excellent scene, this time of Leighton Meester putting on her makeup. Her boyfriend sneaks up behind her and scares her, which he seems to really enjoy doing. They have a conversation about Leighton studying backmasking. In the meantime, she has an Avril Lavigne poster. Now I actually like Avril, but that poster really answers any lingering questions I had regarding this character overall. She and her boyfriend make out, and she invites him to do her, and they play a whispery ballad on a record. Leighton is in her bra when Jan Levinson(-Gould) knocks on the door, but Leighton shoos her away and she and Boyfriend have sex. While — for realz — “I ❤ Bush” turns up on Leighton’s Etch-a-Sketch.
Cut to the next scene. Boyfriend and Leighton are helping out with the school haunted house and they have a verbal sparring with the blonde and her dude from the hot tub, and the blonde is wearing a tiny t-shirt that says “I ❤ Bush.” 😮 They are rich and bitchy, and then have sex in the haunted house.
The lights go out. Thump. Sex Dude is now Headless Dude and there is blood everywhere, as well as strobe lights. Horny kills the blonde. And somehow, Leighton’s boyfriend got tied up and put behind a wall. That might have been an interesting scene, but then we wouldn’t have gotten to see Leighton’s eyeliner technique, so I guess sometimes sacrifice is necessary.
And just when you’re worried things are about to get interesting, all fears are alleviated by the cut to Leighton taking a break from the hard work of the fair to not eat Horny burgers with Jan Levinson(-Gould) and her dad, whose entire character can be summed up thusly: “enjoys hamburgers.” They run into Jan Levinson(-Gould)’s old friend, and there is something going on that is supposed to be mysterious but is mainly confusing.
Leighton, dressed as Elvira by the way, and Guitarist, dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein, go off to look for Boyfriend in the haunted house, where they find a car full of blood. Horny comes over the speaker and threatens them a bit. Boyfriend is in shock and taken to the hospital. Leighton “tries to go with him” only not really.
Then there is a hilarious scene of Leighton finding the “I ❤ Bush” on her Etch-a-Sketch while in her underwear.
Hospital. Leighton stops channeling Alicia Silverstone and starts channeling Eliza Dushku and acts sassy. She then fights with Jan Levinson(-Gould) in the hospital, and this is giving me flashbacks to freshman acting class, because Leighton is SCREAMING every line.
Jan Levinson(-Gould), the dad, and Cops. Jan Levinson(-Gould)’s old friend knew the victims…or something…I really don’t appreciate this third ball to juggle at this point in the game. (That’s what she said.) The parents are trying to tell the cops that it’s connected to Hella-Burger, and Exotic Sidekick awesomely goes, all deep, “Why would someone dressed as Horny the Clown want to hurt your children?”
Cut to Boyfriend in the hospital. He puts some white powder on his burger, and Crackers eats it and falls asleep.
Leighton pose-lies down. The phone rings. To indicate a call from Jan Levinson(-Gould), a picture of her comes up, and instead of Leighton phone’s saying “Mom,” it says “Bitch.” Have I mentioned how very likable and sympathetic a character Leighton is?
In keeping with the toy theme, there is a haunted vending machine. A Horny head in one of those plastic bubble things pops out, along with a note: “See you at 4:20.” In my notes, this series of events is bracketed with: “WHERE IS EVERYBODY, ALWAYS!” Because, seriously. It’s like a post-apocalyptic film, when it comes to relation between the expanse of space and the number of people.
Leighton gets in her car and doesn’t check her backseat. Girl has ZERO street smarts. So Boyfriend, who is in her backseat (heh), scares her yet again. Turns out Jan Levinson(-Gould)’s ex-boyfriend’s son is the head of the 4:20 Boyz (you got that?) and we cut to said 4:20 Boyz, which is really two guys and a girl, smoking up then going to play in the Hella-Burger ball pit/playground area. The girl goes to place a “We read that The Pot gives people munches!” order and apparently the guy taking the order is the “Supersize Me” guy, which is awesome. He tries to kick the guys out of the playground, but they call out “Suey” and throw balls at him. Supersize Me Guy tells the girl to control her friends. She says “Whatever. Where’s your shitter?” while the blonde dude pisses on a clown face. ‘Cause you know how weed’s always making people all belligerent.
Then! Horny rises from out of the ball pit and throws an axe through the blonde. Horny quotes “The Shining” and kills the other guy. The girl finds them and screams.
Once again, the action transitions to Lifetime, as Jan Levinson(-Gould) watches the news, then fights with Leighton who is late and Jan goes, “We were worried!” And Leighton shows a picture of Jan Levinson(-Gould) with Mr. 420 and Jan gets that look of resignation that means a far-away-stare story is coming.
And sure enough. Apparently, Jan was friends with Mr. 420 and the parents of the other murdered teens back in the day. We see a flashback where Teen Jan Levinson(-Gould) steps out of a MAJORLY hotboxed van. WTF. The smoke just keeps swirling and swirling. Basically, it’s like Michael Scott wrote the stuff about weed. Maybe Jan got him the job!
Anyway, Jan Levinson(-Gould) and her friends tormented Original Horny back in the day. And OH was obsessed with Teen Jan Levinson(-Gould). And then, Jan says in real time, he died in a fire. Jan Levinson(-Gould) and her friends killed him. Dum dum dummmmm….
Back to flashback! It is the night of Original Horny’s 18th birthday, and no one has come to his party. His candles are lit, and Original Horny is sitting alone. Jan Levinson(-Gould) is at the door, so he goes to it. Mr. 420 and the others scare Original Horny and knock him out. The candles set the place on fire. Jan cries in real time.
How does Leighton respond to this? Why, by being a bitch, of course! She says that Horny isn’t bothering Mr. 420 or Jan Levinson(-Gould), it is Leighton! Leighton who is suffering! Because it is her 18th birthday now and Horny is coming for her!
Leighton and her idiot friends show up at Mr. Hella-Burger, Original Horny’s dad’s house. Leighton is packing heat. They all split up of course, because that always works out well in horror movies.
Cop station. Exotic Sidekick is actually posing, like she is doing that camera stance where you put one leg slightly in front and bend at the hip. But she’s not taking a picture, she is supposed to be moving like a human person.
Mr. Hella-Burger is watching TV and communicating with Original Horny. Erm. Well, let’s just move on. Leighton and Boyfriend sneak into the house and go in Original Horny’s room. A toy makes a noise — it is a Horny doll. Leighton pulls a string from his back. “Have a nice day. Happy birthday (Leighton)!” The lights, which were shockingly on, I guess the only time these people turn the lights on is when they’re breaking into houses, but they go out anyway, and the only light remaining are these round windows filled with green light that feel like a submarine and I have no idea what that is all about.
Curly has camouflaged his face and is in the garage. He YELLS to Guitarist; these nimrods are really bad at this breaking and entering thing, and then Curly opens a freezer and finds body parts! It is the 420 girl, who did not escape after all. She’s about to get some company, because Horny cuts Curly in half, and his body remains standing. When he goes to walk, he falls apart, and it is really NASTY yet kind of awesome, which is added to by Horny’s saying, “You’ve got a lot of guts, kid.”
The cops show up.
Leighton and Boyfriend walk down a hallway for approximately 10 hours.
Horny attacks Boyfriend! Boyfriend rips off Horny’s face! “You eyeballing me, boy?” Horny asks him and Boyfriend’s eyes fill with blood and Horny throws him out the window.
Crackers finds the freezer with 420 girl and presumably Curly.
Now we find Leighton tied to a chair in Hella-Burger, mouth taped (yay!) and there is a cake with lit candles in front of her.
Exotic Sidekick finds Mr. Hella-Burger, thinking he is the murderer because she doesn’t believe the murderer is a dead boy in a clown costume. Mr. Hella tells her that Horny’s going to kill him. He is under arrest.
In a legitimately fucked up scene, the dead teens are seated around the table with Leighton. It’s a birthday party. One or two even have hats on. Leighton is horrified. Horny untapes her mouth and she screams. He douses her with gasoline and she screams. He takes a candle from the cake. Leighton is doomed!
NOT SO FAST because Jan Levinson(-Gould) has come to save the day! She shoots the door down and says this is between her and Horny! They fight.
I forgot to mention before that Leighton often has a flask, lest we forget that she is Not Impressed By Authority, and so she takes a swig and after Horny knocks out Jan Levinson(-Gould) and comes at Leighton with the candle again, she spits on the flame and it goes back at him and he catches on fire. Leighton runs to Jan and then they just kind of stand there and watch him.
Leighton goes, “Fast food kills, fucker.”
Cops. Exotic Sidekick finds Horny’s mask/face. All bodies accounted for but Horny’s. Exotic Sidekick tells Leighton that Boyfriend is alive, but he is in critical condition and may not live through the night. And she says, “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.” And Jan Levinson(-Gould) says, “I’m just glad this is all over.”
OR IS IT? For what do we have here, but Boyfriend lying in the hospital bed. He opens his eyes.
Leighton shows up in his room, and Boyfriend is gone!
Leighton and Jan Levinson(-Gould) go to the window and stare out of it. Leighton says, “It’s not over.” Then we pan to the ground and see Boyfriend’s clothes.
Crackers is in the Hella-Burger drive-thru and he is talking about how Exotic Sidekick is a bitch, but he’d do her and then BAM! There is a NEW AND IMPROVED HORNY on Crackers’s car! He smashes through the windshield and it is
~ THE END ~