Newest Review: ... tire of it. I find it entertaining yet mildly scary. The first time I watched it was as part of a DVD night with several others and we en... more
Wrong Turn (DVD)
Member Name: SmoothCriminal
Wrong Turn (DVD)
Advantages: Good acting, a great thriller
Disadvantages: Two dimensional and flimsy villains
Wrong Turn was released in 2003, and falls firmly into the horror/slasher genre. Directed by Rob Schmidt, it is set deep in the woods of West Virginia. Chris Flynn, a medical student late for an interview, takes a supposed shortcut through the backroads of the forest. Swerving off the road and into a car full of vacationing students, the group trek through the woods to find help. However, it soon becomes apparent that their respective accidents were no accidents - and before long, they are in a fight for their lives as the inbred and cannibalistic forest dwellers hunt them down.
The plot is pretty paint-by-numbers horror movie, and I can easily count half a dozen films within the genre with the same plot. All of these were of course inspired by the 1970s classic, Deliverence, where a similar premise saw a group of men fighting for their survival as they are chased by insane mountainfolk. However, with this stale concept, there are some surprises. The first is the quality of acting - while there are a handful of throwaway actors, these are balanced by the formidable acting talents of Eliza Dushku (who has proven herself on the small-screen on Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse), Kevin Zegers and Desmond Harrington (who now appears on Showtime's 'Dexter'). Dushku and Harrington make for really compelling leads, with them pulling off the physicality required for such roles and also providing a lot of unspoken and unresolved sexual chemistry. Their charismatic performances really carry the film, and their respective talents breathe a little life into the slightly flimsy characters on screen.
The adrenaline filled plot movies relentlessly, and there is never a moment in which you feel like you are losing interest. With a runtime of around eighty minutes, there is really no dip in the pacing, which is a testament in some degree to the quality of the storytelling. I am a huge fan of the horror genre, but in terms of shocks and gore, there is really very little bloodshed shown on screen and very few jumpy moments. It feels more like a thriller as I felt my heart pounding due to the suspense, as opposed to anything particularly explicit on-screen. With chases through the woods, dodging flying arrows and tense climbs through the trees; as the film progressed, it was clear that the director's focus was on the hunt and not the kill. I think ultimately, this was a good thing because the rise of 'torture porn' (i.e. senseless and excessive bloodshed in films with no reason other than to pad out meagre plots) has essentially cheapened the impact of many films in the genre. It also keeps the momentum going, as you see the film more from the perspective of those who are surviving, so you feel their fear and urgency, as opposed to dwelling on those characters who have been lost.
I suppose the major problem with the movie was the way in which the forest people were presented. In 'Deliverance' and 'the Texas Chainsaw Massacre', what truly made the adversaries chilling was how human they were. 'Wrong Turn's mountainfolk felt like... monsters. The make-up was oddly unconvincing, which is surprising, given that other elements of the movie appear very high-budget. The animalistic grunts and the lack of backstory means they aren't particularly chilling, and seem darkly comical at times (I doubt the director intended that). It seems that our fear of the group's adversaries relied on our other forays into the genre, and assumed we were all familiar with the backstories of 'the Hills Have Eyes' or 'Deliverance' to know how and why these people were this way.
I think ultimately 'Wrong Turn's strengths lie in the two lead actors, the adrenaline-fuelled plot and the high-quality set pieces. However, the film makes little to no effort to add its own unique twist to this very tried-and-tested plot. It entertained me, and the hour and twenty minutes flew past, but there was no lingering sense of unsettlement or discomfort, which I always rather masochistically enjoy. It is definitely an enjoyable way to pass an evening, and is definitely more tame than most horrors, so would probably appeal to those who prefer thrillers as opposed to gore. It is not especially memorable, but similarly, there is not much to critically savage the film about it. Quite simply, your basic cookie-cutter horror.
Summary: Great entertainment, not-exceptionally memorable or innovative.