What’s it About?
Trapped inside his car by a mudslide, smooth talking Jackson Alder suddenly finds himself in a situation he can’t talk his way out of.
Directed by William Dickerson
Things are not going too well for the young professional, Jackson Alder (Neil Hopkins of “Skyline”). He apparently got himself in a wee bit of car trouble. And I don’t mean a flat tire. Jackson discovers that after an apparent mudslide he is buried in his vehicle underneath an immeasurable amount of dirt and mud. He races against time to try to save himself from being crushed, being suffocated and / or starving to death.
But it is maintaining his sanity in the enclosed space of his car that director William Dickerson (The Mirror) explores in this lean little thriller that, despite being reminiscent of other like minded thrillers like “Buried” or even Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours,” manages to hold it’s own with a clever pace.
Left to his own devices, Jackson must struggle in his confined space to try and put together the pieces of how he exactly got into his predicament. Dickerson supplies enough back story and some well placed flashbacks in order to develop Jackson and create some depth in how Jackson deals with his claustrophobic plight.
It is Hopkin’s show ultimately and even when the beautiful Brea Grant (Halloween II, Ice Road Terror) is on screen (no where enough for my taste) as Laurie, we get to know more of Jackson and what makes him the somewhat irreverent (at least in the workplace) man that he is.
These small vignettes are somewhat unavoidable when using a minimalist approach like Dickerson does. They may or may not be insightful but when things get back to Jackson as he cries in frustration, screams in desperation and even tests the limits of his smart phone we get back to the real meat of the story: Jackson’s attempts to survive and his prevention of madness.
Hopkin’s hysterics feel very real and even as the excellently well placed cameras record everything we feel the space inside getting smaller and smaller threatening to crush us along with Jackson. Much credit has to go to Robert Kraetsch (Sharknado) for doing an admirable job keeping us in the detaining space of the car.
Dickerson keeps it simple and that is a refreshing way to approach a film like this. There are fits and starts of good movie making here with the involving sound effects (like encroaching mud and dirt and the loud moaning and collapsing of the tortured car’s metal) and Hopkins becoming unglued as he does things like record messages to Laurie and even crams a steering wheel club through his sun roof.
Dickerson and writer Dwight Moody (Shadowbox) really put Jackson through hell (one funny scene involves a funny reaction from Jackson as he empties his bladder) in order for him to dwell on the state of things before he became stuck in his car and his journey takes him into captivating territory the more he thinks back, dreams and even hallucinates.
“Detour” is a small and suspenseful piece that is quickly paced and precisely edited. Maybe too quickly paced at times. There is an urgency in the film that sometimes is appropriate and other times feels rushed when we want to understand and explore some of the existential properties in the story.
Some may feel that there isn’t much to “Detour” since it sometimes treads very repetitious and familiar ground and some may even find it slight and grow impatient with it. But I actually enjoyed Hopkins and the way that Dickerson puts us right in there with him. The film does not re-invent the wheel nor discovers anything groundbreaking but it is an enthusiastic attempt at asserting mood, fear and desperation in a neat little package.
Watch it at least for Hopkins who gives an energetic, spunky and improvisationally felt performance. Dickerson’s film is a cool way to spend a quiet Saturday afternoon on the sofa instead of having to channel surf through repeats of SyFy Channel movies. Oh and the ending to “Detour” will have you noticing just how long you may have been holding your breath…and I really mean that.