‘Diversion’, Thriller by Stuart Dobbs
RICHARD WILKINS is an unassuming thirty something finance consultant on the verge of losing his wife and children due to a reckless office fling. Just when he thinks he will lose the most important thing in his life - his family, he is forced to follow a diversion where he may lose something even more precious, his own life.
Work colleagues RICHARD WILKINS and NICK JOHNSON are en route to a conference when police instruct them to take a diversion to avoid a chemical spill. They drive into a rural hamlet in the Pennines that’s buzzing with police activity. It’s a confusing scene as they are escorted to a make-shift police ops centre in a livestock auction house. Ten other equally baffled drivers are rounded up and taken in a minibus to a secondary hub a safer distance away from the chemical spill.
It is getting dark when the twelve men are dropped off at a remote farm. Things get edgy when they are abandoned by their police escorts. Suddenly they come under attack from gunshots and all men run for cover. A police car arrives and two curious cops step out. Without warning these two cops known only as THREE and FOUR, shoot indiscriminately at the men who scatter in all directions. The two sinister cops pursue them, picking them off in some bizarre twisted hunting game.
Richard and Nick manage to escape the farm using a Land Rover stored in a barn. They make it back to the hamlet but are overpowered by more rogue cops firing at them. They are hauled out the jeep by cops SEVEN and EIGHT and taken to the auction building. The cops subject Richard and Nick to a cruel game of Russian roulette. Richard has no choice but to defend himself, he uses his assailant’s gun to kill both cops. He escapes the bloodbath, Nick doesn’t.
Trapped in the hamlet, Richard doesn’t know if he will make it out alive. Finding a public phone box he calls his wife KATE WILKINS. Kate is with friend CARRIE discussing Richard’s misdemeanors when they see he is phoning. Kate angrily hangs up leaving Richard to record a terrifying voicemail informing Kate he loves her, he is sorry and he will die.
Richard takes refuge in a dairy farm, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues with Richard utilising the farm outbuildings for cover. He has to improvise and uses cunning and brute force to take out the malevolent cops one by one. The hunted now becomes the hunter, the few remaining cops realise they are no longer in control and flee. Richard manages to escape the hamlet of horror making it to the desolate highway. In an attempt to hitch a ride, he is accidently knocked unconscious by a passing lorry’s door mirror.
The next morning waking dazed in a roadside ditch, Richard spies sanctuary in the form of a desolate café. He enters to find cops THIRTEEN and FOURTEEN are about to kill removal drivers GAV and STEVE. Richard fights the cops shooting THIRTEEN and stabbing FOURTEEN in the neck with a fork. He saves Steve but is too late for Gav. He plans to take Steve as his witness until things get more complicated, two fresh police officers SUSAN and TOM on a routine patrol drop by. They recognise the two dead ‘cops’ are real ex police officers. Tom calls it in on the police radio, Richard and Steve might yet be saved. Their salvation is short lived as cops TEN and THREE arrive to clear all evidence of their sick shooting game.
Tom and Steve are first to be executed by Ten and Three. Susan manages to hold them off briefly then is chased into the labyrinth of parked lorry trailers. Richard spots his opportunity to escape until a radio call on the dead PC Tom causes him to reconsider as he learns Susan and Tom are genuine cops. Richard runs for the trailers and arrives at a stand-off between Susan and Three. Ten appears and confronts them all, first brutally taking down his ‘colleague’ Three, followed by Susan. Richard flees and hides inside a construction trailer. Waiting for the right moment, Richard lynches Ten and extinguishes him.
The terrifying ordeal appears to be over and Richard has survived, for now. A flurry of cop cars race into the café car park, dozens of armed police take formation in a semi-circle, surrounding Richard. He is frozen to the spot. Despite Richard previously begging Kate not to come, she arrives to see him cutting a lonely figure cornered at the café entrance, a parade of cops facing him down. Kate runs for her husband but is held back by the police. We watch as the armed cops begin to walk towards the paralyzed Richard. Things begin to wrap up, one last view of the scene as we pull up and away, we don’t linger long enough to see what might transpire and are left wondering what will become of Richard and his family.
Number of Pages:117
Country of Origin:United Kingdom
International Independent Film Awards Winter 202017412 Ventura Blvd. #33 Encino, CA 91316
March 27, 2020
Royal Wolf Film Awards
May 15, 2020
Best Feature Script April 2020
Chicago Screenplay AwardsChigaco
June 30, 2020
Quarter Finals Spring 2020
Stuart Dobbs began his career in the mid 1990s working as a runner for a film sales company in London called Ciby Sales. Ciby Sales produced numerous arthouse films including 'The Piano', 'Muriel’s Wedding', 'Lost Highway' and many more. Whilst at Ciby Sales Stuart was exposed to literally dozens of feature film scripts submitted to the acquisitions department. Noticing his passion for feature scripts and storytelling, Ciby Sales sponsored Stuart to attend the Robert McKee 'Story' writing seminar in 1995. At the event Stuart made friends with other writers and each month would attend meetings at the London Screenwriter’s Guild. Stuart also joined numerous film-making workshop courses and signed up to the New Producer Alliance.
From 1997 to 2001 Stuart attended film school at Napier University in Edinburgh where he produced several short drama films including a road movie ‘Nowhere’ that he wrote and directed. After completing the course Stuart went on to produce two short drama films, 'Shade' in 2003 that was shown theatrically before a feature film nationwide and 'Snakebite' in 2006 that was in competition at a number of film festivals including Berlin.
Up until a few years ago Stuart worked in television as a production manager and kept his hand in writing shorts and feature scripts. 'The Ramblin’ Kid' was his second feature script written in 2018 which received an ‘Honorable Mention’ at the Los Angeles Film & Script Competition. The script was also considered by Kyle Ogden Executive Producer at Purple Hut Cre8tive;
“Your treatment was the second of many that I read in this process and I immediately requested the script. I loved the story, the characters and the dialogue and I championed it throughout. The team felt the same as I did and it was a difficult decision to not progress it further. In the end it came down to a gut decision from myself and the team and it was incredibly close”.
‘Diversion’, Stuart’s latest feature script is a complete departure from the slow burner ‘The Ramblin’ Kid’. It is a fast paced action thriller that witnesses a group of drivers forced by dubious cops to make a diversion into a remote hamlet deep in the heart of the Pennines. Thirty-something colleagues Richard and Nick get caught up in the diversion en route to a work conference. Dragged against their will into the sleepy village, they find themselves fighting for their lives as they are hunted by rogue cops in a twisted game of cat and mouse.
The film is a quick paced action thriller. Within ten minutes of the story commencing, our main protagonist RICHARD and his colleague NICK are forced to follow a diversion into a rural farming community where all is not what it seems. This remote location deep in the heart of the Pennines is swarming with police activity. The diversion appears suspicious and the presence of the police is questionable. Things quickly become edgy when Richard and Nick find themselves trapped with ten other random disgruntled travellers.
The ultimate premise of the film raises the question; what if the people whom we would turn to in times of danger, the ones whom you would call upon to protect you - the police, turn out to be the very ones that attack you? To be landed in such a scenario would be a mind bender, who can you trust if you cannot trust the police? This is exactly the dilemma our main protagonist Richard faces when he finds himself being pursued by rogue ‘cops’ in some evil twisted hunting game.
The film starts out early evening then descends quickly into darkness as the terror unfolds. Consider such British horror thrillers as ‘Dog Soldiers’ (2002) where the main characters are held captive deep in dark woods in the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands and the sense of dread and fear amplified by what cannot be seen. The story seeks to create the sense of being holed up in a sealed off community, too far away to reach out for help and trapped in a perpetual state of fight or flight. Reference elements of British drama ‘Kill List’ (2011) by Ben Wheatley and such American thrillers as the 1997 film ‘Breakdown’ with Kurt Russell.
Early on we see Richard is distracted by his own personal issues regarding his wife. These are quickly forgotten when Richard finds himself fighting for his life in a gruelling game of cat and mouse. Initially Richard is portrayed as a relatively mild character, but witnessing the random deaths of the fellow innocent travellers including his own colleague Nick, Richard has no choice but to fight to survive. We witness the emergence of the hunted becoming the hunter as Richard turns the tables on his foes. Reference the meek character of David Sumner in Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Straw Dogs’ (1971) and how he uses ingenuity and cunning to outwit his adversaries. Likewise for Richard as ultimately he has to meet the wicked cops at their level and use brute force to overcome them to survive.
The ending of the film is purposefully designed to be ambiguous. The story climaxes in a desolate roadside café. Richard is confronted by authentic police officers SUSAN and TOM arriving on a routine patrol. Susan and Tom recognise two of the deceased rogue cops as genuine ex police. There is a fleeting chance that Richard has been saved and now he has credible witnesses to support his claims. This hope is short lived however, as a final showdown takes place between two remaining ‘cops’ that come to ‘tidy up’ at the café and are confronted by Susan, Tom and Richard. After a final stint of carnage, Richard remains the last man standing but has he survived the ordeal? The film concludes with another wave of armed police descending upon the café. Richard is distraught when he sees his wife and three children arrive in tail despite Richard pleading with her to stay well away. In this closing scene we are literally left hanging and the audience are left wondering whether Richard and his family will endure more of the same horrors or whether he has been saved.