Stephen Moyer’s latest film, “Detour” has finally hit theaters and is also available to stream on Amazon Video. We first heard that Stephen had been cast in the film back in February, 2015. It has been described as a twisty new thriller from writer/director Christopher Smith, which world premiered May, 2015 at the Tribeca Film Festival.
We’ve seen the film and provide a review below. PLEASE NOTE: If you don’t want to spoil the film before you see it, stay away from the SPOILERS tab!
Click on the TABS below to read my FULL REVIEW!
First let me say that this film’s plot incorporates many twists and turns. It is described as a “film noir” and it suits that classification since noir is defined as “a cinematographic film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace.” Detour certainly includes all three moods.
The ingenious screenplay’s twists and turns help to keep the film moving forward requiring you to use your wits about you as you watch. I’m sure the screenplay was fun to read and I’m betting that Stephen chose to be a part of this production because of it’s screenplay written by Christopher Smith, who also directs the film.
Although Stephen’s character of the father is not the lead role, his part is the essential key to the drama. Throughout most of the film, you assume that you are watching two possible paths that the main character, Harper, can take, but just as you think that one of them will be the real story, a third one, which combines the first two, pops up.
Since it’s an independent film I think we’re lucky it is being shown in theaters, but I predict it will get widespread acclaim and more viewership as it is concurrently being streamed on Amazon. I applaud this decision since so many well done and worthy independent films often don’t get seen.
Stephen has played the part of a father before in films like “The Barrens” and “Empathy,” and “Entrusted” but this time he plays the part of a “step-father” (Vincent) which, at least in my mind, immediately raises negative thoughts.
The story is told through Harper’s eyes and right away we are lead to believe that Stephen’s character, “Vincent” is just waiting for his wife to die so he can inherit her money. Harper believes this because he notices that Vincent has forged his wife’s signature on her will, which essentially leaves the money to Vincent. The Will is dated during a time when Harper knows that he and his mother were in New York, so he immediately jumps to the conclusion that his dad is just trying to get her money.
Also, Harper overhears Vincent talking to someone on the phone, which he immediately assumes is Vincent’s cocktail waitress girlfriend. These two facts and the forgery make Harper certain that Vincent is up to no good, but when you add that Vincent also hasn’t visited his wife, who is lying in the hospital in a coma due to a car accident, I can understand why Harper fears what he does. Additionally, Harper’s mother is supposed to have been driving the car, but now Harper thinks that the opposite is true and it was Vincent driving. Hence, Harper feels he has enough evidence to prove that Vincent crashed the car deliberately and is just waiting for his mother to die to collect her fortune. Harper decides to confront his step-father and while his video camera films the whole thing.
However, the night before, Harper goes to a local bar to drink away his sorrows. There he meets Paul, a tough guy to whom he tells his story. The next day, Harper wakes up very groggy from the night before and doesn’t remember much about his meeting with Paul.
They say they are there to join Harper and drive to Las Vegas to kill Vincent while he is on his business trip there. Although Harper doesn’t remember it, apparently, he asked Paul to help him kill Vincent. At this point we know little of what transpires in the house before they show up or if anything has happened.
Paul says that Harper promised to pay him $20,000 to help kill his step-dad and that he and Cherry have come to drive to Las Vegas to do the deed.
Paul’s policy: Don’t regret the things you do, just the things you don’t.
Harper has his first decision to make, should he go or stay home?
This is when the story splits in two and you are lead to believe that you are watching two different scenarios, one that Harper doesn’t go with them and the other that he does.
Go to the spoilers tab to read what happened next! (Read Spoilers only if you haven’t seen the film, you are forewarned!)
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When you first see Harper as he wakes up after the night at the bar with Paul, this is when the plot gets pretty tricky. For me it was the yellow coat that helped me to understand what belonged to what. After confronting his father with what he thinks, Harper ends up fighting with him and killing him with the kitchen knife. They struggle from the house to the back yard and Harper stabs Vincent which causes him to fall into the swimming pool and bleed to death.
Harper freaks out for a bit but soon decides that he must drag Vincent’s limp body into the house and wrap him in a yellow plastic tarp. He then sticks the body in the trunk of his Mustang. So, while Steve’s character is dead throughout most of the film, he is in the whole film because the three take that car to Vegas and he is in the trunk the entire time. Ha!
Harper, Paul and Cherry drive to Vegas, but along the way, Paul stops to see a man to whom he owes lots of money, Frank. We soon learn that Paul is protecting Cherry from Frank, someone even more evil than he is, and who wants her back. Cherry is something Frank really wants have sex with and to have added to his group of prostitutes. Paul gives him $5000 and promises the rest the next day. After a confrontation, Paul leaves refusing to give Frank to Cherry to clear his debt promising he will return with the rest he owes. Frank gives him one more day to do so.
Along the drive to Vegas, they get pulled over by a policeman who is very tough with Paul. Cherry pulls a gun on the cop and although not dead, he ends up in the trunk (along with Vincent, but we don’t learn that until later). Harper convinces Paul to drive to a remote location where they can let the policeman go. Paul fears this and wants to kill him, but they drug him instead, and leave him there. Harper convinces Paul that the policeman will be out for so long that they will be far away before he wakes up.
When they arrive in Vegas, Harper decides that he is going to save Cherry and screw Paul. Although at this point, we don’t yet know that Harper has put his step-dad in the trunk. Since the room they rent is in Paul’s name, Harper calls the hotel staff telling them about the car having something in the trunk and they should check it out. He then rents another car and tells Cherry that he will meet her at 10pm. The police grab Paul, but he knows that Frank is out to get her and after his arrest, he tries to leave her a message saying so. Unfortunately, Cherry doesn’t hear it because she has thrown her phone away.
Harper decides to leave Cherry at a roadside gas station because he doesn’t want her to get caught as he fully expects that he will be. However, since Cherry threw out her phone, she doesn’t know that someone is coming to find her. Harper leaves and drives to the Mexican border, while Cherry waits for a bus. As she is waiting, one of Frank’s men drives up and just as he is crossing the street to get her a big rig truck comes and hits him broadside, killing him instantly.
The next we see Cherry and Harper along the beach in Mexico. We learn that he had changed his mind and gone back for her.
I’m glad that Stephen chose to be part of this film. His role of Vincent is not a big one; in fact for most of the film he is a dead body, but his presence is pivotal and adds a lot to the narrative. I won’t tell you whether his character is guilty of all that his step-son accuses him of, but I was happy with the ending which revealed his true intentions.
I strongly suggest viewing this film; not just as a Stephen Moyer fan, but as a fan of independent film and for screenwriting which must be recognized whenever it’s really good. This is one of those “good” ones.