Cannibal Detour

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A group of friends (following an all night rave somewhere or other) head back to L.A. in their camper van.

The group is made up of:

LAWRENCE (Aaron Buer) - A horny white boy/wannabe black boy stud who likes to rap and rhyme his constantly moronic sentences while wearing tragic sports wear and gold chains.

HARMONY (Jill Jacobs) and TARA (Ashley Elizabeth) - A couple of day glow hair, hot pants wearing Barbie dolls who like sucking on lollipops.

CASHIE (Kelsey Wedeen) - A bitchy, doomy goth (with a few day glow hair streak concessions to a colour other than black) who constantly fights with Harmony and Tara.

MICHELLE (Jessica Osfar) - A denim wearing blonde who blends into the background so well you forget she's even in the film until she unfortunately speaks or more fortunately gets her breasts out.

LEE (Ryan De'Rouen) - Michele's shade wearing 'dude' boyfriend.

NEIL (Brent Taylor) - Their slightly more laid back driver who only seems to care about his Dad's camper van.

Driving back Neil takes a detour (oops! Silly people!) to find a supposed field of marijuana in the desert, near an old mine on a remote disused army range, that some mad old soldier told him about ( yes you are reading this correctly). The others reluctantly agree to go and have a look.

They arrive at a weird back roads gas station (with the worlds least hygienic, animal body part strewn, restroom) run by a jumpy young guy named Petey (Anthony Connell) who warns them to stay out of the desert.

Of course they don't listen and before you can shout "Danger ! Will Robinson" they have crashed the camper van into a hole, after Neil thought he saw a weird girl standing in the middle of the dirt road.

With the mountains blocking mobile phone signals, and the van going nowhere , our obnoxious group look to be in a little bit of trouble.

But when a bunch of psychotic cannibals make an appearance they find that they are in fact not in a little bit of trouble after all. No, instead they're in a whole hell of a lot of trouble! And things are about to get worse.....

Following the opening rave scene (which for some reason edits in shots of carnage, like something rammed into a mouth and a disembowelling, that don't actually appear in the rest of the film) we are flung right into the hell of hearing the main characters speak. In fact, the hell of getting to know the characters full stop! They all speak like they are from some "Jay and Silent Bob" deleted scenes.

To sum these people up;

The Barbie girls want to get back in time for the season premier of "The Real World" and say things like "You got a ghetto booty" and "my boobs are lop-sided"! The Goth chick whines a lot and says stuff like "I'm almost embarrassed to say I have a pussy around you two" (to the Barbie girls). And all the guy's dialogue is at least 70% "Ya'll", "fuck", "dawg", "yo" and "no way man". Yes, they DO all need to die.

The worst offender is Wigger incarnate Lawrence who basically (unless you are one of the dumb creatures like him) rips your ears apart with his Ghetto Lingo and almost sinks the entire film pre-psycho segments.

His reaction to their shit smeared van delivers a rare bit of genuine humour from his character but after, when he is hyped up by the Barbie girls to protect them (by pandering to his 'bad ass Gangsta' fantasy), he becomes instantly hateable again and you hope with all your being that one of the psycho's does him in quick! Only Barbie Tara actually evolves into a character you can root for as she sheds her lollipops and florescent boob tubes to become a tough survivor as the group fight for their lives.

Given the aforementioned plot it will come as no surprise for genre fans to notice a HUGE "The Hills Have Eyes" influence here. From the desert setting, to the camper van stranded victims, to the desert dwelling psycho's, to the gas station and it's worried attendant�.All is present and correct.

I have no problems with takes on other films, or homage's to other films (though I hate same name, pointless re-makes of films that don't need re-making!) but this is a little too close to Craven's movie.

All that means it goes without saying that many of the horror clich�s are here, but at least the moments that separate the group (going back to the gas station, trying to get higher to make the mobiles work) are realistic and unforced and Director Steve Taylor also manages to keep the clich� elements of his own film interesting and entertaining in their own right.

The background of the psycho's is very muddy and basically unexplained, but this is not really a criticism as the screenplay by Taylor and Steve Grabowsky simply decides to show us not much more than the would-be victims themselves as far as the psycho's go and they at least veer away from Craven here in choosing not filling in the history of the threat.

The fault comes when they do attempt to add a vague, possible, explanation to why the people are mad via a completely out of the blue revelation involving some kind of chemical. It's too vague to really grasp hold of, and yet too explicit to remain a real enigma. As such they should not have bothered.

The psycho's themselves (there seems to be an undetermined number) are a bit of a letdown actually as they tend to simply look like dirty mechanics and redneck couch potatoes. With none of the facial and/or clothing eccentricities of Craven's killer "Hills" family (only some hysterical bushy eyebrows and wild hairdos ensure the psycho's have anything unusual looking about them) and a lack of dialogue (bar much grunting and growling and the odd mumbled "Time to feed" line) means they have zero personality and none of the memorable character traits of Craven's creations.

But lets not be all negative, as there is still a lot of enjoyment to be found in "Cannibal Detour" (or simply "Detour" as it's more widely known) and some good set-pieces. There's some nice moments of macabre humour (often involving heads) and some marvellous shots (especially given its low budget, straight to video origins) of dusty-sheet wearing psycho's emerging from the sand, lit only by the headlights from the camper van, and some atmospheric scenes in the cannibals' lair as they drag bodies along tunnels.

We also have a rather unexpectedly in your face moment of nudity that actually gives Jessica Osfar something to do in the movie.

Gore wise we have a delightfully hacked, headless body stuck to a wall with it's body parts strewn around the ground, a spear in the back, a head stuck to the grill of a truck like some grotesque ornament, some bloody mishaps with traps and some nasty stabbings and impalements.

Sadly not much comes from the hinted at cannibal aspect or the fate of those who are captured, as nothing is actually shown bar some late in the day stored body parts and a corpse (the 'unused' scenes during the rave scene edit did hint at more), but where "A Texas Chainsaw Massacre" could get away with hints�Taylor's film feels light without them.

But generally the FX are not only very well done, but also thoroughly entertaining.

So we have nothing original, some truly hateful characters (at least to anyone who does not spend their life slurping 'Slushies' at the mall while listening to "Eminem") and some rather plain psycho's, and yet thanks to the well done gore, the atmosphere, some good visuals and an obvious enthusiasm for the project by all involved "Cannibal Detour" still manages to be a solid, unpretentious but of horror entertainment that quite simply does what it says on the tin. And pretty much does it very well.

Reviewed by 42nd Street Freak