Wrong Turn (2003)
USA / English
"It's the last one you'll ever take.
"Six people find themselves trapped in the woods of West Virginia, hunted down by "cannibalistic mountain men grossly disfigured through generations of in-breeding."
A slasher that needs more...well, everything!
Rating: ** out of ****
Wrong Turn seemingly has all the ingredients necessary for an effective
slasher: a good setting and decent premise, a very attractive and
likable cast, memorable make-up and gore effect, and a refreshingly
unironic tone that reminds us of the days when old-fashioned horror
didn't rely on self-conscious humor to pass for entertainment value. In
that manner, Wrong Turn is actually a little nostalgic, not unlike the
rest of the recent batch of backwoods horror flicks (Cabin Fever, House
of 1000 Corpses, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake).
But aside from two solid setpieces, the movie rarely fulfills its
(admittedly limited) potential. The script matters little in this
subgenre, but there's almost no plot after the ill-fated teens arrive
at the mountain men's cabin. This is about twenty-five minutes into the
film, after we've already dispensed with the obligatory character
intros (basically: 3 hot chicks and 3 hunky, but also surprisingly
personable guys) and whatever reasons they have for being stranded in
the middle of nowhere, West Virginia.
Everything after that is typical cat-and-mouse filler, the killers
(three inbred, cannibalistic hillbillies) searching for their prey
while our protagonists run and hide behind trees. There's very little
in the way of suspense, namely because it's so obvious who's going to
live and who's going to die and in what order. And because the cast is
so small, you can't even enjoy a particularly large body count (half
the main cast is killed off less than forty minutes into the picture).
Wrong Turn is also missing much of what makes slasher movies fun to
watch: explicit nudity and the occasional bit of gratuitous sex. With
such an attractive cast (Emmanuelle Chriqui is cute, and Eliza Dushku
and especially Lindy Booth are total hotties), the movie regrettably
skimps on the goods. Such a complaint probably wouldn't matter if the
characters were better developed, but despite a talented cast, the most
interesting aspect character-wise is noting how different a couple
Lindy Booth and Kevin Zegers played in Dawn of the Dead.
As for the rest of the cast, Desmond Harrington is a solid actor, but
does little more than run, grunt, and dive headfirst into every
dangerous stunt (his volunteering for every dangerous move actually
makes him pretty likable even when we question his logic). Eliza Dushku
simply coasts on her looks (and proves that all hottie TV actresses are
destined to play a big screen scream queen at least once in their
lives), while Emmanuelle Chriqui just shrieks her way through her part.
Standing out a little is Jeremy Sisto, who infuses a bit of humor into
an otherwise very disposable role.
The forest is something of a disappointment, as well. With a
potentially excellent setting at his disposal, director Rob Schmidt
fails to generate any creepy atmosphere in an environment where you'd
think atmosphere would almost come naturally (to be fair, a lot of
horror movies also seem to have this problem; the last time I saw a
forest setting utilized perfectly was in 2003's terrifically
frightening Dead End).
Despite the fact I've done little more than harp on the film, there's
no denying that the middle half-hour is occasionally entertaining.
There's a semi-suspenseful scene set in a vehicular junkyard (finally,
a little variety in setting, huh?) and another effective sequence set
inside a watchtower that segues to an exciting chase atop the branches
of some very large trees. The murders are too sparse, given the small
cast, but they're gruesome and memorable, and thankfully not as
relentlessly cruel as the deaths in Cabin Fever, but boast just the
right touch of menace and hard-edged violence.
The three hillbilly killers aren't quite as successful as the gore; in
fact, seeing less of them would have been appreciated, considering
their grotesque appearance almost crosses into the realm of
self-parody. Even The X-Files knew better than that.
Anyway, whatever momentum the middle half-hour built up comes crashing
down in the final minutes, with the film actually closing out with an
explosion, surely a sign of desperation on the part of the screenwriter
if he can't come up with any brighter ideas in a slasher (I was, in
fact, about to give the movie a ** 1/2 until the climax). Overall, this
is mildly recommended to slasher fans or anyone who wants to gawk at
Dushku for a little over an hour. Wrong Turn at least has its heart set
in the right place, which is more than can be said for most slashers
|Nr of disks/tapes:||1|
|Storage device:||Divx 5|