Off The Rails – ★★★ 1/2 Sheff Doc Fest 2022

Off The Rails – ★★★ 1/2 Sheff Doc Fest 2022

Trauma has taken hold of our two subjects in Peter Day’s Off The Rails. As they battle through their pain, we become all the more concerned for them —an empathetic and engaging piece that is well worth your time.

Rikke Brewer and Aiden Knox struggle with the death of their best friend Nye Newman and subsequent mental health issues in very different ways that threaten to tear them apart. In pursuit of 15 million clicks of fame and money and a career as a YouTuber, outgoing Rikke seeks the dangerous thrill of UrbEx stunts as a way to numb his loss and pain. Aiden, more introverted, seeks solace in Parkour while working menial jobs to pay for his increasing reliance on alcohol.

Comprised chiefly of Rikke and Aiden’s footage, Off The Rails could easily venture down myriad paths to be its own feature-length documentary. Young adults are trying to figure out a way out of their working-class backgrounds and live their best lives—exploring the need to find that avenue via fame online. Even an insight into the community and joy that comes from participating in Parkour and UrbEx for young people, finding that connection with others that might otherwise have been missed.

Then we have that final story of what happens to young adults when they lose a close friend. What happens to young people when something so cataclysmic to their lives occurs right in front of them? Director Day has decided to merge all of these ideas into one well-formed piece wisely. We get to witness the build of the world that the guys live in and see some utterly fantastic moves. For it all to then slowly ease back into something more than that.

Off The Rails is laced with so much sorrow, with Rikke nor Aiden able to come to terms with the loss of Nye. Rikke is on a never-ending search for the thrill of climbing any building or the stunt that got him and his friends famous, train surfing. Resulting in him encountering countless altercations with the law throughout Europe just to seemingly feel something. You are terrified for him each time he goes out, and even when he recounts incidents like a police search of his home, the spark behind his eyes isn’t there. Only when the thought of performing rises something out of him, which is devastatingly heartbreaking.

Equally, with Aiden, he is on a path to nowhere, stuck in a cycle he cannot escape from, to the point where if he is drunk, there is a rule from his dad that he sleeps outside. So concerned for his well-being is his family that when his dad decides to sell the home, Aiden does not get a lump sum but money paid in instalments so that he doesn’t waste it all in one go.

The film is as depressing as it is worrying that no one has been able to get their arms around these guys and help them. They and their families have been left to struggle, and the impact on all concerned is shown clear as day at how helpless they were. As the documentary continues, the trauma that remains in both starts to haunt you. Their addiction to what they do is as much their yearning for a thrill as it is to keep Nye alive with them. If they stop and move on, they are moving on from him, and neither can accept that.

It is essential here that Off The Rails feels like it is Rikke and Aiden’s. Peter Day has effectively set the narrative format and allowed those involved to form what goes in it. But at the same time, the need to utilise so much of their work also becomes one of its minor struggles. The continual push to that older footage is interesting with the narration but perhaps overused. When it works, it really works; seeing Aiden’s spiral in old footage is fascinating as his older self describes how lost he was. Day’s respect for the two and their world shines throughout, and you get how close he must have brought with everyone involved to get the intimate information and moments that he does.

Off The Rails works best when it allows itself to stay calm for a minute and allows the participants to talk directly to the camera. It feels like a documentary that requires a few more moments or two like this to allow the entire piece to breathe, if only for a moment before lunging feet first. For example, when we are with Aiden in his old room, and he is discussing things, you are fully engrossed. When Rikke’s mother talks about how the pushing of the stunts after Nye’s death is an invisible form of self-harm, you are struck by the emotion of it all. Allow the older footage to punctuate the points brought forward by the documentary.

Yet, those moments with Rikke and Aiden’s thrill-seeking footage interlaced with their actual home life are fascinating. Once we are away from their friends and they are on their own, they feel like completely different people, and that has to go down to the work from Day, he has been able to pull the truth out of the duo so that even if they don’t expect to, they are confronting that trauma.

Overall Off The Rails delivers a fascinating insight into the minds of those who have lost too soon, of those from a background where the need to escape is so high that, at times, little else matters. While we want more time with the duo and their families to discuss their trauma and life direction. Day has allowed his documentary to have its voice, and boy is it one worth listening to here.

★★★ 1/2

Support Us I am but a small website in this big wide world. As much as I would love to make this website a big and wonderful entity. That would bring in more costs. So, for now all I hope is to make Upcoming On Screen self-sufficient. Well enough to where any website fees are less of a worry for me in the future. You can support the website below…


You can support us in a variety of ways (other than that wonderful word of mouth) and those lovely follows. If you are so inclined to help out then you can support us via Patreon, find our link here! We don’t want to ask much from you, so for now we have limited our tiers to £1.50 and £3.50. These will of course grow the more we plan to do here at Upcoming On Screen.

Buy Us A Coffee

Our other method if through the wonderful Buy us a Coffee feature, but seeing as we are not the biggest fans of coffee, a pizza will do! We keep it fairly small change on that as well and it allows you to give just a one off payment, so no need to worry about that monthly malarky! We even have a little icon on the website for you to find it and help us out with the running of the website.

Social Media

You can also support us via Twitter and Facebook by giving us a follow and a like. Every one helps!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: