Detour (Snarveien) (2009)
(15) Running time: 77 minutes
Director: Severin Eskeland
Writer: Severin Eskeland
Starring: Marte Christensen, Sondre Krogtoft Larsen, Jens Hulten
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Norwegian director Severin Eskeland has spent his career making a number of short movies, and Detour marks his first attempt at a feature length movie. On the evidence of this, he is not quite ready for the jump from short film to full length. Yes, Detour has some nice touches and familiar ideas, but even with such a short running time, the film manages to drag in places, and feel completely flat in others. The story and characters have a tight, if prolonged build up, and once the nasty stuff really kicks into gear, it is over within the blink of an eye. Make no mistake, this is NOT a gorey, backwoods slasher or even torture porn flick, for the most part it is at times a well crafted and menacingly executed thriller, but with many flaws.
A couple are driving back to Norway for a friend’s wedding, and it isn’t until they’re well on their way, with a boot full of booze, that their friend tells them over the phone being caught smuggling booze into Norway is thought of as the same as smuggling drugs, and carries a serious penalty. Upset at not being told this before, and a little worried, Martin (Larsen) and Lina (Christensen) carry on in the hope they do not meet any police. Travelling over night, they come across a road block, an accident has happened and the police officer tells them to take a “detour” down a country road to bypass the road block. Now, here is where the director shows off some skill as the couple nervously answer questions in the hope of not being caught with their booze. Excellently crafted, this scene promises much more good staff as the film goes on, and it does hold up the tension for a while.
There is the almost abandoned gas station, equipped with local looney taking pictures of Lina’s chest area (and later on of her in a bush when nature calls), Martin is a little dumb to see what is happening, and further down the road they end up with a flat tyre, thanks to some nails intentionally put in the road. You can guess where things go from here, and even when the policeman comes along after the couple almost run over a girl, you can tell exactly what is happening. The mysterious girl is claimed to be a drug addict, and needs to go back to her Grandparents house, and the couple must follow the police officer to file a report. Everything is far too obvious to fans of these sorts of films, and unfortunately circumstantial occurrences do not make you think “oh yeah, of course, didn’t see that coming”, they will instead make you say “yep, seen it all before, how obvious could you get!!”
Sadly that is the films downfall, there are so many films like this, and if you are going to be brave enough to add a new film to this already over used genre, you need you need to inject something fresh. Detour doesn’t feel fresh, it feels tired, wasted and used up, almost desperate, which is a shame because the early scenes are at times very tense, and the location and night time setting work wonders to crank up the menace. Sadly though, this film plays far too much by the rules, with Martin even breaking into the gas station to find a tyre repair kit, and you just know it will lead to bad things. There just weren’t any ideas here to bring the whole thing together, instead it is a reproduction of everything you have seen before. There is also very little violence, so there is not even the big, upsetting ending promised by the trailer, just a quick, rushed job at the end that loses any impact the build up may have created.
There is skill here, and maybe a few films down the line the director will find his feet and create some wonderful horror films, but unfortunately Detour is not that film. A good effort, its heart is in the right place and the director clearly loves the horror genre, but Detour is a failed opportunity.