Aggro Dr1ft’s Orgastic Thermal-Neon Nightmare Is an Assault on Modern Hollywood Sensibilities

Harmony Korine is one of the very few truly transgressive filmmakers working today which makes him extra precious in the American landscape. Eschewing any semblance of traditional narrative form or structure, his movies are more like a series of vignettes within the lives of his characters, who are themselves outsiders. He is a poetic mystic of the misfits, the freaks, and the outcasts. His singular focus on the lives of people many of us wouldn’t want to spend time with repulses many moviegoers—he doesn’t simply make movies about these people, he makes us share emotional space with them, which can be uncomfortable. But one gets the impression that Korine isn’t interested in our comfort. AGGRO DR1FT continues this legacy, for better or worse.

I struggle to find apt points of cinematic comparisons for Korine’s movies. The closest analogs to his body of work, as I understand it, are literary. I see more Carson McCullers and Flannery O’Connor than any other filmmakers, with his Southern Gothic focus on the societal and structural decay of the rural American South—regions that are filled with outcasts and loners, freaks, and burnouts. Still, one can imagine even O’Connor’s Misfit recoiling from many of Korine’s characters.

With AGGRO DR1FT, even those comparisons break down. I can think of nothing else that I have ever seen that exists on the same plane as this movie. While his previous two movies looked much slicker and more polished than his output had previously been, AGGRO DR1FT should put any anxiety that he was sliding more mainstream to bed. Created at Harmony Korine’s new design collective EDGLRD (pronounced “edge lord”), it was written and directed by Harmony Korine and it stars Jordi Mollá as Bo and Travis Scott as Zion.

A mask wearing man in AGGRO DR1FT, whose face appears to be glowing behind the mask.

The plot of this movie is so simple that it hardly moves beyond the premise: Bo (Mollà), the world’s greatest assassin (we must take his word on this because his kills are generally straightforward affairs, involving him walking up to his target and killing them), is given a job to kill a terrifyingly demonic crime lord. Bo is reluctant to continue his job because he just wants to spend his time with his adoring family, who seem to exist only in relation to him. The rest of the movie is about him working his way to this target while feeling depressed about it.

While this premise sounds like the kind of simplicity that leads a film to explosive and nonstop action, not so with AGGRO DR1FT. Most of this movie is surprisingly slow, involving long closeup shots of scary faces, panning shots of men holding guns, and driving cars, all in brilliantly lit-up neon dreamscapes. The score, a thumping electric number, pulses in the background, while quiet, whispering voiceovers narrate, often incomprehensibly. In this respect, it’s closer to Gummo than any of Korine’s more recent movies—but instead of poetic or humorous ruminations about the lives of the characters, we mostly get threatening, violent comments and brief monologues about a loving family. The voiceovers add the feeling of meaning without adding anything meaningful. I suspect many will get bored.

People have understandably focused on the fact that AGGRO DR1FT was shot using special thermal cameras from NASA, but to focus exclusively on that is to oversimplify the look of this film. This is a world where devils loom in the sky and lightning inexplicably bursts from the neon clouds. Often, other worlds pulse through people’s bodies, revealing a physical interiority that suggests machinery, dancing geometric shapes, and vague human skulls that flicker through the skin.

A skull-faced man looks intensely at the screen in AGGRO DR1FT.

If my dreams had dreams, this is what they might look like. Capturing the look of a dream is often a fool’s errand in movies because, at the end of the day, movie cameras show us a mostly fixed concrete world, while dreams constantly shift before our mind’s eyes in ways that we don’t question while dreaming. The shifting of reality never feels unnatural in a dream and this movie captures that sensation in unnerving and often beautiful ways. I watched this movie as if in a trance, mouth agape. Now that I’ve had a chance to reflect on it, my feelings are more complex.

Two things are true at once: this is one of the most strikingly beautiful movies I’ve seen in a long time, and it is aggressively dumb. If this movie conveys the look and feel of an intense dream, it also carries the curse of dreams—the spell that it casts ends as soon as the dreamer awakes. When the lights came up after the movie, I had difficulty remembering what I found so intriguing about it. So much of it is a 14-year-old boy’s idea of cool. The men are wound tight and always ready to fight and kill, and the women are either strippers or they’re at home, pining away on their beds for their beloved husbands to return, at a loss of what to do with themselves while alone.

A guy shooting a gun towards the screen, muzzle flashing.

Korine’s movies are always singular, with very little stylistic similarities between them. Each new film is a new world unto itself aesthetically, though there are often threads of thematic ideas that serve as connective tissue between them even as they actively resist conveying any actual themes. At his best, Korine’s movies don’t comment on the people they portray, but they expand the audience’s capacity for empathy for people who live beyond the boundaries of our society—they don’t moralize, they don’t comment, they simply say “these people exist.” What to do with that information is up to the viewer.

AGGRO DR1FT is even more intensely anti-theme than Korine’s previous outings. What is the point of all this sound and fury? Seemingly nothing. I loved this movie during its 80-minute runtime because it took me someplace new, showing me new things and giving me new experiences along the way, and in the current cinematic landscape, that was engaging enough for me. But reflecting on that experience reveals that it was a hollow one.

Ultimately, you probably already know if you’re interested in this movie. The brute force of its originality was enough to keep me engaged, but it was empty calories. If you’re desperate for a movie to show you something you’ve never seen before, for a movie that will take you places you’ve never been, then this is worth the price of a ticket. If you want that originality to be in service of something meaningful, something that will broaden you, then you may want to pass. I am happy that I got the chance to see it in the theater and I’m happy that it exists, though it’s not a trip that I’m eager to take again.

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Written by Dustin Roberts

I teach literature in a swamp. When I'm not doing that, I'm probably picking dog hair off of my clothing.

You can find me on Bluesky at

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