The Editor often tells us about a road trip he went on with a friend when he was younger and the many wild people he met. The truth however was somewhat different because when we bumped into said friend at a function he told us that it didn’t quite go according to plan as the Editor’s car was such an indescribably poor heap of junk held together by the rust it was riddled with that they only got to the end of his driveway and the only person they met was the man from the breakdown service who had an incontinence problem.
Fortunately the road trip that Harper (Tye Sheridan) goes on in ‘Detour’ is far more interesting. Living with his stepfather who he blames for his mother’s accident which has rendered her bed bound in a coma he befriends Johnny Ray (Emory Cohen) in a bar. Perhaps befriends is over egging it a bit because Harper just about gets away with avoiding a right good shoeing from Johnny Ray who is borderline psychotic with a mentally and physically scarred girlfriend Cherry (Bel Powley) who he seems to be pimping out so as to rob her clients. Harper forges a drunken friendship with him making a deal that Johnny will kill his stepfather for him. It’s only in the morning when Johnny turns up on his doorstep to go on a trip to do the deed that Harper realises what he agreed to yet Johnny by sheer force of character won’t allow Harper to back out of the agreement and together the three of them travel across country to bump off the step father.
What appears to be a linear story line soon starts to get disjointed and its part of the pleasure of the film that it breaks up the narrative as it frequently rewinds to explain how it’s got to where it is and it’s an effective technique that draws the viewer into what is essentially a road movie meets film noir in director Christopher Smith sixth feature film. Smith’s previous has been mostly in horror with films such as ‘Creep’ and ‘Severance’ and ‘Detour’ is something of a …well…detour for him moving away from his UK horror roots to US thriller territory. Unfortunately the problem at the heart of it is that Harper, a well educated law student (who clearly is educated enough to know better) would never get embroiled with such a swivel eyed loon like Johnny Ray and the friction between the two for some reason never really generates any real tension.
Likewise with Cherry she seems a bit too smart to have got involved with Johnny too and what follows is not altogether convincing especially a scene with a black cop at the road side. There are some occasional good moments in this with nods to Tarantino’s ‘True Romance’ and it’s been a while since we’ve seen a director use split screen in the style of early Brian DePalma films but overall what is an entertaining enough story is not as taut as it should be.
Here’s the trailer…….