Back in the 1980’s First Lady Nancy Reagan came under critical disdain with her views on birth control. She had the audacity to suggest that communicable diseases—AIDS, syphilis, Liberalism—could be prevented with abstinence. What I always found curious was that no such condemnation has been leveled at slasher movies, given their undercurrent theme that sex can kill you. Granted, it would be incongruous to criticize an opaque lecture when other objectionable elements are present such as disembowelment and vivisections, but the irony is still in place.
In “Detour” most of the traditional pieces are here—including a rather direct inspiration from “The Hills Have Eyes”—but there is a subtle alteration to the object lesson. Rather than deadly sex, the message in this movie appears to be, “If you Rave—you die.” For me the whole Rave experience is a mystery, and I doubt it has anything to do with advancing maturity. Stupid music, stupid clothes, and stupid drugs hold no appeal for me, and the fact that this universe appears to be populated by immensely stupid people only proves me correct.. I point out the fact that most things involving purple zebra-print or chartreuse leopard fur is inherently vile: just look at the “Josie and the P***y Cats” movie. If “Detour” has one thing in its favor it is that we get to revel in seeing the folks from this realm as they have their party brought to a swift closing time.
The opening scene, (which is a tacked-on post-production shot) concerns two girls driving along a desert highway and getting moon-eyed towards each other. At the moment that they share a kiss their windshield gets splashed with crimson. As they get out to inspect the pair get set upon by a figure wearing gunny sack fashions and sporting a twin-pronged wrist contrivance fashioned out of sharpened rebar. One h***y lass is disemboweled and the other is chased down and dropped onto a set of wooden spikes planted in the sand. As a result of this finely crafted foreshadowing we come to understand that bad people live in this desert.
However the real scary scene comes next: we get introduced to the cast. These are seven of the most obnoxious characters you will encounter in an ensemble slaughter. Usually a plasma-fest will serve up one or two grating characters for a cathartic rush as they expire, but in this effort they all have you begging for the body count. Because of this we get one cast member who distinguishes himself as so utterly loathsome a mere vivisection would not be sufficient. So vile is his existence that his assorted limbs should be deposited into independent sink-holes, covered in quicklime, and months later the lingering corrosive filtrate gathered up and thrown into a pyre that is burning at 1000degrees Kelvin, with the fumes channeled through a multi-layered air filter and the residue collected then taken to a metallurgist so it could be deposited into the smelting vat and formed into a steel I-beam that will be used to shore up a cavern ceiling 3 miles beneath the Earth. And still I am uncertain if this would be sufficient.
Now for reasons never fully explained this herd of meat-bags is contained inside a motor home, apparently having driven miles into the desert for some remote locale for their ecstasy-fueled bacchanal. They are at a truck stop in the middle of the day, still festooned in their garish togs, feather boas, Technicolor wigs, and pastel cowboy hats, looking like extras from some Syd and Marty Kroffts hallucinogenic production. As ghastly as this lot is on sight they all have personalities to match.
There are two easily overlooked party girls who spend the movie badgering each other about the size of their a***s, an under sexed couple, a moody girls named Kashie who despises the others while they ridicule her, (begging the question why was she on this trip?). Neil is behind the wheel because it is his parents RV, which means they are either immensely irresponsible for tossing the keys to this crowd, or theyknew their kid was a self-destructive slacker and looked at the loss of their cruiser and kid as a tax write off. I’m betting on the latter. But the worst of this crowd is Loopz, an urban-polluted white-skinned whelp who raises the hackles on anyone with impaired hearing or better. His “Hooked On Ebonics” patter is nothing but a string of “yo dog punk-a*s wack phishizzle” mutterings, making Jamie Kennedy’s B-Rad sound like an insurance commercial narrarator.
After too much character study a plot gradually unfurls. While driving Neil spins a tale he heard from a military retiree about an abandoned military installation in the desert that contains a sprawling peyote field. He puts the idea of collecting the crop for a huge windfall up for a vote and the group decides that since no one in the truck knows a thing about peyote, trafficking, or drug processing that it would be a good idea. They pull into an outpost gas station and encounter a squirrelly cashier who fills the role of the psychotic who delivers an ignored warning of doom. The fiesta Aerostar turns down an unmarked roadway—you might even say it takes a detour—and about one mile off the beaten path the RV gets stuck when Neil swerves to avoid a hallucination.
Stranded and panicky the group decides the best thing is to split up, which is about the time they start getting stalked by the nameless hoard. Neil tramps back to the gas station. Our couple climbs a hill to look for a cellular signal and they find time during the crisis to copulate on an outcropping. The girls decide they can help by lying out in the sun. As the slaughter begins it really is anti-climatic because you want badly for these idiots to be dealt with. Furthermore the details surrounding the killers are murky. The synopsis refers to them as cannibals yet we see no masticating of victims, and the credits only refer to them as “freaks”.
Overall while there is satisfaction in seeing these detestable ravers get systematically eliminated I feel I would have been much happier had I never met them in the first place.