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Film / Ex Drummer

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His world is most literally turned on its head.

Ex Drummer is a Flemish film from 2007, somewhere in between surrealist drama and very dark (tragi-) comedy, written and directed by Koen Mortier and based on the book of the same name by Herman Brusselmans. Apart from its explicit depictions of sex and violence and its somewhat misanthropic attitude, the film is also noted for its iconic soundtrack with songs from several local and international alternative, punk and metal acts.

Cynical best-selling author Dries Vanhegen is one day approached by three ragged lower-class men who want to hire him as a drummer for their punk rock band; their trademark being having more or less obvious handicaps. The men in question are Koen de Geyter, a lisping skinhead with sadistic tendencies and a virulent hatred for women; furthermore Jan Verbeek, a homosexual with a stiff arm, serious mother issues and a psychotic father he needs to keep confined in a straightjacket; and finally Ivan Van Dorpe, a near-deaf drug addict with an equally unhinged wife and a baby daughter she keeps silent by feeding her hashish. Intrigued at the prospect of a new story, Dries decides to join them and descend into their world of filth and squalor. As for his own handicap, he pretends being an incompetent drummer. From then on, the four men go by the name "The Feminists".


Ex Drummer contains the following tropes:

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking - The Feminists' handicaps: Koen is a lisping psychopath. Jan has a stiff arm. Ivan is near-deaf. Dries? He cannot play the drums.
  • Back to Front - Taken to the max with the long intro scene, which is played almost completely in reverse and shows Koen, Jan and Ivan on their way to Dries, mostly walking and riding bicycles, all backwards.
  • Bigger on the Inside - A very bizarre example with Dikke Lul's wife Erna: He tells her to show Dries (and the audience) her lady parts. The next scene takes place inside her tunnel-sized vagina, with Dikke Lul showing Dries around.
  • Black Comedy Rape - After a gig, Dikke Lul is being offered sex by a male groupie. What starts off consensual soon turns into Dikke Lul brutalising the poor boy's behind, who ends up wearing diapers for the rest of the film.
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  • Brain Bleach - Koen has a crush on Jan's fat, bald mother and fantasises about having sex with her. Naturally, Jan doesn't want to hear any of it. When Koen eventually gets into Ma Verbeek's pants and Jan catches them making out, he immediately runs to the toilet to vomit.
  • Crapsack World - The film takes place in a surreal version of the Flemish lower class; drugs, violence and general depravity define everyday life and people consider verbal and physical abuse their standard form of communication.
  • Dead Person Conversation - Several characters who get killed in the film take a short moment to adress the audience and give some insight into their lives and motivations.
    They still have the wounds from their brutal deaths. One person is talking with his face half blown off, another muses over his gigantic penis that lies torn off in front of him on a table.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Dries spends most of the time firing stealth insults at his fellow musicians and their friends and families.
  • Gag Penis - Dikke Lul bears this name for a reason.
  • Gory Discretion Shot - Almost completely averted. While in the intro a scene of Koen pounding a woman's face with a brick is mercifully kept in the dark, the rest of the film doesn't shy back from gratuitous violence.
  • Groin Attack - Dikke Lul ends up losing his massive member along with his life when a rape attempt backfires horribly.
  • Inverted Portrait - A strange case of a metaphor turned diegetic: Inside his rundown flat, Koen literally lives on the ceiling. He even has a dialogue with Dries who keeps talking up to him from the ground. Eventually, his state leads to a scene where he desperately tries do climb down the walls, only to fall back up again and again, and eventually tries to commit suicide in a bathtub he had mounted to the ceiling.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope - Dries never makes any bones about his contempt for the other Feminists and their social environment, but really crosses the Moral Event Horizon in the end when he incites a killing spree and has almost all other major characters murdered.
  • Meaningful Name - Dries proposes the name "The Feminists" for the band, arguing that four ambiguously handicapped losers are worth "little more than four feminist twats".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance - The final minutes of the film follow a violent rampage, accompanied by a melancholic rock ballad that only in the end develops into something more intense and fitting.


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