When you dissect this uniquely styled thriller with its Sliding Doors-esque story, its hard to argue that the plotline just doesn’t feel very thrilling. Not only does it fail to successfully wrap up all loose ends, it feels like it ends abruptly about fifteen minutes too early. Its hidden well behind a final reveal that’s shockingly impactful and its a story full of twists and turns but it feels like its used to hide the weak story.
We follow the story of angry law student Harper (Tye Sheridon), who’s mother is in hospital in a coma following an accident. Blaming his suspicious step father and convinced he’s having an affair, Harper gets drunk in a bar where he ends up talking to Johnny (Emory Cohen) and his stripper companion Cherry (Bel Powley) about matters at home. Convinced it was just a strange night when he awakes, he’s horrified to find them both at his door in the morning. Its here that his choice branches the story in two directions – go with them or shut the door on them.
The stylistic film flexes its artistic muscles and really shows an incredible bit of cinematography and sound design, crucially at this point in the film. The screen splits in two and we see Harper’s two choices playing out simultaneously. Of course, this only lasts for a few minutes before we switch back and forth between the two stories. Much like the 90s romcom Sliding Doors where a single choice changes a woman’s life, Detour follows this branching storyline to a tee but its story never quite reaches the same standard of the material it borrows so heavily from. There’s no denying that the two storylines just aren’t that exciting either which doesn’t help.
There are some good twists here though and one in particular made me audibly gasp which can never be a bad thing but behind its flash visual style and flaunting its twists which use the same shock-tactic three times (fool me once and all that) it loses a bit of its shine it had for the first hour. Coupled with the frustrating lack of resolution for some of the more immediate plot lines, Detour’s main draw is its acting.
All three leads do an amazing job of portraying their individual characters and their chemistry together is evident on screen at all times. The interesting back-and-forth between the characters feel more meaningful than they actually are due to the acting and its here that Detour really shines, its just a shame that the story just isn’t up to the same standard.
Overall, Detour is a fun ride while it lasts but one that I doubt many people will return to once its plot is resolved (or not as the case may be). The way it cleverly throws its shocks at you feels like a deliberate play to hide the glaring issues with the plotline which, frankly, just isn’t all that good. For a thriller it never quite feels that thrilling or tense. Artistic for sure, Detour is a great looking film that uses some good camera angles and boasts some very impressive visuals. Behind its gorgeous exterior though, is a jumbled mess of a storyline only saved by some fantastic acting.