The Good: It ends . . . eventually
The Bad: Ridiculously gory, Atrocious acting, Utter lack of character motivation, Crappy plot
The Basics: In a horrible gorefest, Wrong Turn leaves the viewer unafraid, slightly nauseous and mostly baffled at how such garbage could make it to the big screen.
When Wrong Turn was first released in the theaters, my wife at the time wanted to catch something kitschy. The thought was we would go see a horror flick and we would have a good time mocking it and enjoying the complete kitsch value of it. The problem is, this isn't the early '80s and horror films have become less about being scary and more about being violent, gore-filled and supposedly shocking. Wrong Turn is the perfect example of how bad the genre may be.
Following a pointless opening wherein two young climbers meet a mysterious and bloody death, we meet Chris Finn. He's an impatient guy headed to a job interview in Raleigh, when he gets caught in traffic. Deciding to take a shortcut, Chris makes a u-turn, goes back down the road and attempts to take a shortcut that will bypass the stopped traffic. Instead, he runs into a damaged SUV filled with young twenty-somethings. The SUV is populated by ridiculously good-looking Jessie, Carly and . . . who cares?
From the moment they come onto the screen, none of the denizens of the damages SUV make us care. The only recognizable actor in the bunch is Eliza Dushku (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the film City By the Sea) and anyone with an ounce of intelligence or more can figure that the two people who will survive the film are going to be Chris and Eliza's character Jessie. Along for the walk to civilization is Jeremy Sisto's annoying character Scott who we hope will get killed if for no other reason than to shut him up.
Within ten minutes of the film's opening, Chris and three of the people from the SUV are walking for help and the two left behind are getting high. Within fifteen or twenty minutes, the two left at the SUV are slaughtered by people we see on screen only briefly and when the other four find the cabin these mutants live in, we know they are in trouble. The rest of the 95 minute flick is the three inbred mutants hunting down and slaughtering the remaining young adults.
The question has to be raised "Why was Wrong Turn made?" It certainly wasn't for the kitsch. There was nothing enjoyable and delightfully ridiculous in this film. Instead, it is pointlessly bloody and does nothing but promote the attitude that differences should be feared and ridiculed. After all, the mutant West Virginians that are the film's villains lack any motivation. So, they are different and have hideous deformities from inbreeding. Why then are they cannibalistic (and wasteful ones at that)? The scenes in their cabin wherein they butcher Francine and their stock of teeth, boiling human remains and other dead human wastes are revealed are flat out disgusting and not scary. In short, the film is simply gross, never suspenseful, never classy, never engaging.
I think I went to the wrong film. In fact, I know it. Why? I was far too intelligent for it. Despite the rapid camera movements that imitate a panicked three year-old's views of the world, every movement by the mutants was predictable. They always attacked from the side of the screen I knew they would and they always followed the tactic I called in advance (i.e. when three of the people make it to a tower, the usually noisy mutants manage to make a stealth climb which is foiled, so they begin to burn the tower. That I knew they would set fire to the tower the moment I saw them tromping through the forest with torches and yet the doctor protagonist didn't guess it says something about the quality of the film).
Moreover, the film seems to exist in an utter vacuum of logic. When the quartet makes it out of the mutant cabin where the mutants have brought Francine home to carve up, we see an eye looking out the keyhole, letting us know that either Carly or Scott is watching them do this horrific act. As they rush out of the house, both of them are collapsing and their explanation to Chris and Jessie is "You haven't seen what we saw." Now, this defies any sensibility that a rational person would have by the simple physics and common sense of the situation; both of the characters should not have been traumatized by this. Why? Only one could be looking through the keyhole at a time. Let's say it's Scott. Scott stands there watching Francine getting carved up (her leg is amputated on screen) and while this traumatizes him, he could: a. close his eyes, b. stop looking or c. fall away in shock. Under any of those circumstances why would Carly start looking through the keyhole and why would Scott let her?! There is no way both of the characters could have seen what happened to be traumatized. Not unless one is a sadist ("Hey, want to watch them cut up Francine?") and the other is an idiot ("Sure, that would be fun!"). It's details like that that stand out as glaringly ridiculous and insulting to the intelligence of the viewer.
The only thing more insulting is what this does to the actors. Jeremy Sisto is an accomplished actor. While I was not fond of his character of Billy on Six Feet Under, Sisto played the character well. Similarly Eliza Dushku has a budding acting career with accomplishments such as holding her own with Robert De Niro in City By the Sea. Why would these accomplished actors stoop to such a crappy film? It could not have been just for the money. I have to believe it.
This film has absolutely no value and the only reason to watch it is to induce vomiting.
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© 2011, 2008, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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