William Dickerson’s debut feature is a Survival film called “Detour”. This one just finished up on the film festival circuit. iIt’s about Jackson (Neil Hopkins) who is trapped in his car after a mudslide in Los Angeles. Brea Grant (The Baytown Outlaws, Halloween 2) also has a very small part as Jackson’s girlfriend. This is mostly a one man show with Neil Hopkins really doing a solid job in the role. His character is written in such a way that you really root for him through the duration of the film. Over the last few years I have seen films like “Buried”, “Wrecked” and several others in the same style that were very mediocre. I think it takes something very special to craft a solid film, especially with one character in one location. It’s been done before but it’s rare.
I thought this was an interesting premise. The beginning of the film Jackson is already stuck in the car. We know that he works at a advertising company but everything else about his life is a mystery. As the films moves along we get a few flashbacks of him with his girlfriend or was it wife? (I can’t remember) but that’s basically it. From what we are shown he doesn’t seem to be the most loving or commited type of person. Trapped in his car, the mudslide has already taken place. I’m not sure if this was because of a lack of funds, or if they couldnt find a practical way to shoot it. Regardless, I would have like to have seen events prior to the accident. We don’t get to see where he is, how far down he is or how he got trapped. The film has all the cliché elements survival films have, such as the phone not working. Jackson attempts to retrace his driving steps by drawing directions on the rear window of the car. I’m not sure why he thinks that would help him? especially if his car is covered in mud beneath the ground.
Jackson spends a lot of time in the opening act wasting energy with tedious tasks. Once he comes to grips with the magnitude of the situation, he has a panic attack. This is not a smart thing to do when you have a lack of oxygen.. he screams and shouts and breakdowns, wasting a lot of energy. I was expecting this step in the last act, not in the first 15 minutes. Not to mention he has a brain fade and drinks his whole water supply in the first 10 minutes! He then realises this and basically say’s screw it I’ll drink the rest (yeah that makes sense) His first actual attempt to leave the car takes place 20 minutes into the film. I’m not sure what he was waiting for? He quickly realises this isn’t going to be easy, so he decides to get everything he can possibly find from the car. After accessing his supplies he thinks trying to assemble a tube to light a fire through the roof of the car is a smart idea. He is in a car, with petrol and fumes and several other things that could blow up hello?, It’s probably not smart.
I like that Jackson keeps his sense of humour through the ordeal. There were a few funny little comedic moments and references that I did like. Ultimately we get on board with Jackson even though he does some very dumb things. His ability to not give up and continue searching for new ways to escape the situation shows his will to survive. In the same vein as “Buried” (and plenty of other films) it’s just the one location. Somehow “Detour” seems to keep you entertained and wanting to see where things go.
Detour is a low-budget, one man show and you have to admire the attempt. I was thinking that one important thing would save the film (I can’t share details) but I am happy to say that it went the direction I was hoping for. It could have been taken in a certain manner that would have ruined the experience. Technically it’s a well made film. I mean there wasn’t much to do in the sense of lighting, camera work or score so in that respect it should have been competent.
I give William credit for his first feature here. I think he will gain more experience from this and keep making better films. If you are a fan of films about one character or survival films, you might want to check this one out.
My rating for “Detour” is 5/10