June 30, 2015 by Liza Lou
This review started off a little differently than normal so I thought I had better explain before I jumped into it. Writer/Director/Micro-budget extraordinaire William Dickerson and I started following each other on twitter and I became interested in his work. He offered to send me over his films for me to have a look at and Detour is the first of two that I have watched and reviewed. Even though I was sent the film directly, it is available on amazon and as with everything I write, my opinions are my own and true to myself.
Okay so with that out of the way, what is Detour all about?
Put simply, the film is an account of one man’s survival when he becomes trapped inside his car due to a mudslide. Billed as a claustrophobic thriller it is reminiscent of films like Buried and Wrecked but it is no way a carbon copy, not even slightly. What unfolds is a definite story of parts of the human Psyche that intertwine to create the complexity of wanting to survive.
The man in question is L.A quick talker and business man Jackson Alder who is (quite terrifically I must say) played by Neil Hopkins. I knew little about Hopkins apart from trying to watch the TV series Lost years ago until I became well… lost but trust me when I tell you that in Detour, he is more than watchable!! Hopkins manages to convey all the emotion of a man facing death while playing up to that almost cocky business like persona that dwells within Alder’s personality. At one point I became unsure whether on not Alder was a complete genius or slowly going mad but came to the conclusion that it was probably a bit of both, I’m not sure I would of acted the same in such a high pressure situation but Hopkins made me believe.
As with many of these survival films the start is frantic with very little build up. The subject soon becomes the focus (and vice versa) but as I am a mystery loving girl I didn’t need explanation. Alders was trapped underground and I wanted to know if he was going to get out! For me it was that simple, but as I touched on above it wasn’t within the plot. What followed the start was about forty minutes of gripping stuff as Alders creates and existence around him within the confines of his tomb.
I loved this act of the film because as I said I wasn’t quite sure if the character was an utter genius or slowly verging on a mental breakdown. Dickerson as writer and director offers us no real concept of time lapse which only adds to the confusion and it was brilliant. Unlike other survival films Alder’s main focus wasn’t about getting out, instead it was about making sure he could survive where he was.. great twist and it worked well.
The second act of the film and the next glimpse at human Psyche is one of connecting with the outside world. This is done through some flashback snippets but even more emotionally, through playbacks of home videos on Alder’s mobile phone. Together, they both answer questions about the type of man Alder’s is while adding other elements of mystery. Even the poignant parts don’t seem very bleak though because by now hope was instilled in me through this mans sheer strength. Again, clever because act three was an absolute emotional roller coaster.
I am going to leave it there and urge you to go watch and while watching, bear in mind that this film was made on a minuscule budget and is testament to Dickerson’s craft. It definitely is claustrophobic, that elusive third act more so and it is a tale of surviving BUT it is cleverer than that, it played at parts of my mind I didn’t even know existed.