Detour (November 28/03)
Though there tend to be more bad than good, the indie horror scene can occasionally be counted on to crank out interesting flicks that manage to transcend their almost nonexistent budget. Detour, directed by Steven Taylor, is just such a movie.
After partying at a rave all night, seven friends traveling in a huge camper are making the trek to a supposed marijuana farm in the middle of the desert. During a stop at a local convenience store, a strange man warns the group not to venture any further. Not surprisingly, the gang decides not to pay any attention to the guy (and anybody who's ever seen a horror movie knows that the local weirdo is always right when it comes to these things) and keeps going with their journey. But when the camper gets stuck in a sand dune, the friends find themselves under attack from a seemingly never ending supply of cannibals.
Detour falls somewhere between The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, though the film never becomes a complete ripoff of either. Taylor does a nice job of imbuing the majority of scenes with an effectively intriguing visual flair, which goes a long way in offsetting the film's obvious low budget. Though the characters tend to veer between stereotypical and all-out obnoxious, Taylor (along with co-screenwriter Steve Grabowsky) makes the smart decision of commencing the killin' almost immediately.
The film's eagerness to provide our heroes with enough opposition seems a little over the top, with villains consistently emerging out of nowhere (literally; there's a moment in which half a dozen cannibals pop up from underneath the sand). Taylor and Grabowsky probably should've stuck with the model of The Hills Have Eyes, and limited the evildoers to a single family. Likewise, there's a short-lived subplot (featuring one of the kids drinking some kind of potion that turns her into a cannibal) which brings a supernatural element into the film that's wholly unnecessary.
Detour's plentiful gore and unexpectedly stylish direction make it easy enough to overlook the few plot holes and irritating characters (that Eminem wannabe really should have been the first to go). In the realm of straight-to-video horror, this is about as good as it gets.