Scenic Route (Blu-ray Review)

scenic-route-blu-ray-coverMitchell (Josh Duhamel) and Carter (Dan Fogler), life-long friends who have drifted apart, are on a road trip when their old pickup breaks down, leaving them stranded on an isolated desert road.  Nobody can pick apart a man like his best friend, and as the relentless elements of the desert grind them down, they start to attack each other’s life decisions with unwavering brutality.  As they question who they are and who they could have been, their agitation leads to physical confrontation and ultimately knife-wielding madness, and what begins as an inconvenience becomes a very real life or death struggle.




Mitchell (Josh Duhamel) is on a road trip with his old friend Carter (Dan Fogler). Mitchell is a handsome, clean cut, family man with a wife and young son. Carter is a sloppy, overweight, struggling writer who lives in his car and still dreams of his big break. The film begins with Carter’s body lying in the dessert. Clearly something on this road trip has gone horribly wrong. Carter’s aging truck has broken down and the men are stranded at least 60 miles from the nearest person.

Carter was hoping the road trip would be a chance for the old friends to reconnect but until the breakdown, Mitchell has spent much of the trip sleeping. On the side of the road, they start discussing their relationship and the status of their friendship.  Mitchell was once an idealistic musician who created the Gumball Doctrine – swearing never to give a woman a diamond that didn’t come from a gumball machine. He has since put a diamond on the finger of his rebound girl, and Carter accuses him of living an off the shelf life plan from Home Depot.  As time goes on, the men have some good conversations and start to reconnect. As rescue seems more unlikely the men unravel. The hunger and the thirst become more than they can take and after hot days and cold nights the men huddle together in a shallow grave clinging to life.

This Goetz brothers film starring Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler is amazingly gripping for how simple the plot is.  Most of us have a lifelong friend that we know we wouldn’t be friends with if we met them today.  Two people who have a lot in common in their early 20s can become strangers by age 30.  The cover shot of Duhamel with a bloody face and a mohawk haircut is a hint that the men are in store for a life or death struggle with the elements and each other.  I’ve been a fan of Josh Duhamel and this movie gives him a much different role than his usual ones and it’s nice to see him show some more range.  I don’t want to spoil the movie so I will stop there, but this movie had a lot more to it that I thought it would.



Scenic Route is presented on Blu-ray with a 16×9 ratio.  Although shot primarily in the desert and mostly in or near one old truck, the video quality is noticeably good.  The day shots feel hot and gritty and even in the dark night you can still see the sand blow in the wind.  Lens flares during the day are intentional and add to the realism of the film.  The film’s color palette is without a lot of variety but the varying shades of wet and dry blood makes you feel that both characters are genuinely hurting.



Although dialogue driven, Scenic Route shines when you listen to the wind and the quiet of the isolated desert. The men talk quietly from inside the truck at times, scream at each other from larger distances at others with volume never needing adjustment. The score is understanded when needed, yet powerful when warranted.



Although the Scenic Route Blu-ray only contains one real feature (excluding the trailer), it’s one of the more interesting commentaries I’ve listened to.  With such a difficult environment to shoot in the directors and the star have many anecdotes to share.  For a simple film with a small cast, a lot of effort went in to making it work.

The single Blu-ray disc contains the following extras:

  • Audio Commentary with Directors the Goetz Brothers and star Josh Duhamel  A fairly interesting commentary where the two directors discuss the difficulties trying to find a location, working with a small budget and shooting in order because Josh Duhamel’s mohawk is real.  I had also wondered if Josh Duhamel really needed the crutches in the film and he explains that although the injury in the film is not genuine, hopping around on crutches aggravated a previous injury leading to surgery.

  • Trailer

bloody mohawk


Wanna be independent film makers should watch Scenic Route and listen carefully to the commentary.  It shows how a simple idea can develop into so much.  Two solid actors can carry a film with an ending that makes you think and isn’t clear.  It’s the type of ending that the viewer has to interpret and not everyone will agree on what actually happened. Outtakes, production stills, deleted scenes are talked about in the commentary but unfortunately they aren’t on the single disc Blu-ray.  This movie allows Josh Duhamel to prove that he is good for more than just romantic comedies. This is a film that’s worth watching, owning (on Blu-ray) and watching again.

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