Friday, April 15, 2016

Detour (USA, 2003)

"Oh hell woman! It's time you open yo eyes! We're a million miles from dick, Cashie's trippin' and we got some kinda freak stalkin' us! ... and you're tellin' me ... that I'M over-reacting?"
Loopz / Yo-Man (Aaron Buer)

(Spoilers.) Aka Hell's Highway and Cannibal Detour. No, we're not talking about a remake of the 1945 Poverty Row masterpiece Detour (trailer / full film) directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage, which was already pointlessly remade in 1992 by Wade Williams (starring Tom Neal Jr.). Nor, for that matter, are we talking about the long-forgotten, public domain, pre-code chain gang crime drama from 1932 entitled Hell's Highway (full film) starring a bunch of equally long-forgotten names — Richard Dix (18 July 1893 – 20 Sept 1949), Rochelle Elizabeth Hudson (6 March 1916 – 17 Jan 1972), and C. Henry Gordon (17 June 1883 – 3 Dec 1940), anyone? — and directed by "the largely forgotten" Rowland Brown (6 Nov 1900 – 6 May 1963). The movie at hand here is the totally unknown rip-off of The Hills Have Eyes (1977 / trailer) written and directed by the still-unknown Steve Taylor, and starring a bunch of names that will never be known, much less forgotten. (OK, supposedly cult fave Tiffany Shepis is somewhere in the flick, but we missed her.)
Our DVD says the movie is presented by The Asylum, and indeed it follows the typical Asylum business model of rewriting and remaking bigger-budgeted films to cash in on the publicity of the "real" movie, so in all likelihood Detour is, alone due to the date of its release, more of a rip-off of Wrong Turn (2003 / trailer) than the popular Wes Craven flick that laid the groundwork for both of these and many other movies (and also got remade [trailer] 3 years after this flick here came out).
Here, instead of a typically dysfunctional American family confronted by a family of killer cannibals on their way through the desert — or a variety of young couples in the backwoods of Buttfuck, Nowhere, who run into a family of misshapen killer cannibals — we have a group of over-aged, high-school party animals returning from a desert rave who, when making a detour to find a legendary peyote patch, run into an extended family (?) of peyote-freaking cannibals. (Yep, in the end, Detour is actually an anti-drug film, but it manages to hide its message so effectively that you almost don't notice it.)
To say Detour is a good movie would be a lie. Oddly enough, however, though a mass of badly constructed plot developments, truly crappy make-up, and almost no tension or logic, we sort of found the movie mildly entertaining and almost effective at times in a Z-movie way. We will definitely never watch it again, and would be hard-placed to recommend it, but, well, we can't say we hated it. There were simply a few too many things we sort of enjoyed.
But one thing we really didn't like, however, was the character Loopz aka Lawrence (Aaron Buer), whom we nicknamed "Yo" in our minds: he gains special notice for being the stupidest, most pointless, gangsta-talking white guy ever found in a movie, direct-to-video or not. (That he survives somehow echoes real life: those who deserve to die, never do. Why else is Trump still alive?) The rest of the fodder was, for the most part, far more believable as characters.
Not that there weren't enough other failures in the narrative to induce the occasional unintentional guffaw: our loudest came with the Molotov Cocktail from nowhere, followed by the hilarious glued-on hair of the big bad guy. Aside from guffaws, there are also a good number of groaners in the movie: for example, when Michelle (Jessica Osfar) and Lee (Ryan De'Rouen) go hiking up a hill to try to get a signal for their mobile phones (they have sex, which allows for some tit-flashing, so they die), or when Neil (Brent Taylor of Starkweather [2004 / trailer]) not only drops his gun but runs straight down the middle of the road when being pursued by a pick-up truck instead of suddenly sprinting left or right or off the fucking road (he dies).
OK, so what did we like? Well, the cinematography is occasionally okay and the use of filters effective; also, the opening rave was edited and colored in a manner that (barring the brief intercut scenes of dismemberment) was extremely reminiscent of the X-fused raves we used to go to. And, for a change, the movie managed to believably present the fodder as either friends or acquaintances, and thus their reactions to the given situations sometimes achieved a mild verisimilitude. We also liked that the person with the biggest balls was a woman — Tara (Ashley Reed) — and while it does in the end take the joint effort of the three survivors to survive, she is the driving force. Likewise, the death of Lee was rather funny (and not badly shot), and Michelle's demise did hurt to watch.
Detour gets more things wrong than it gets right and misses many an opportunity to be a better movie, and its low budget is as obvious as its script is full of holes. Still, for a grade-Z movie it passes quickly enough and manages not only not to piss you off too often, but to keep you mildly interested. But don't think we're actually recommending it...

"I love big, hairy, man ass!"
Loopz / Yo-Man (Aaron Buer)

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