Movie Marathon: ‘Wrong Turn’

I’m pretty clued up on my horror franchises. I’ve seen all the Freddy, Jason, Jigsaw, Phantasm, whatever else. But one franchise I’m completely in the dark about is the Wrong Turn series. I remember the original getting a lukewarm reception on release, and am constantly surprised to hear that there’s five sequels out and a sixth in the works.

The Dead Meat channel is covering them in the Kill Count series, so now’s as good a time as any to crack into them.

Movie: Wrong Turn

Released: 2003

Director: Rob Schmidt

Cast: Eliza Dushku, Desmond Harrington, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto, Kevin Zegers, Lindy Booth, Julian Richings, Garry Robbins, Ted Clark

Plot: A group of travellers become stranded in the mountains of West Virginia. As they look for help they find themselves being hunted by a group of inbred, mutant cannibals.

Review: Even as a horror buff I wasn’t ever compelled to seek this one out. Having seen it some 20 years after release I am unsurprised to learn that it is…unremarkable. It came out at the tail end of the Scream-led resurgence of slasher movies with a bit of Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. What it doesn’t have is a strong sense of identity.

Our hero is the boyfriend from Dexter (Flynn), who takes a ‘wrong turn’ through some backwoods in an attempt to circumvent a traffic jam. In a moment of distraction he crashes in another vehicle, already stranded after driving through an intentionally planted mess of razor wire. He meets the car occupants of Final Girl Eliza Dushku and her gang of red shirts. Among them we have the youngest security guard from Dawn of the Dead and the girl with the dog from Dawn of the Dead, the girlfriend from Entourage and Jeremy Sisto looking ten years older than everyone else. While searching for a phone they discover a cabin that houses a family of cannibals. Before long they’re the prey in a deadly hunt.

If you’re looking for the entirely mindless horror movie with a splash of gore you’ve got one here. It doesn’t do anything new or push any boundaries, and when horror movies are predictable they cannot possibly scare us. The real world inspiration for this kind of movie is substantially more terrifying than anything the movie provides.

What does work in favour of the movie is the work by Stan Winston studios. The effects work on the cannibals is very impressive, as is some of the kills later in the movie.

What really struck me about this movie was the cast. They’re mostly actors I associate with one distinct role that we see in them here. It feels like a cross-over episode between Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dexter and Entourage with Jeremy Sisto doing improv. The Dawn of the Dead couple are playing very different characters, but they have the reddest of shirts so it doesn’t matter for long.

It’s easy to see why it is something of a forgotten series, only notable for how surprising its longevity is.

Rating: FIVE out of TEN