On one last road trip before they're sent to serve in Vietnam, two brothers and their girlfriends get into an accident that calls their local sheriff to the scene. Thus begins a terrifying experience where the teens are taken to a secluded house of horrors, where a young, would-be killer is being nurtured.
Chris Flynn is driving his car for a job interview in another city. However, an accident with a trunk transporting chemical products blocks the highway and Chris looks for an alternative route through the mountains of West Virginia to accomplish his schedule. Due to a lack of attention, he crashes another car parked in the middle of the road with flat tires. Chris meets a group of five friends, who intended to camp in the forest, and they decide to leave the couple Francine and Evan on the place, while Chris, Jessie, Carly and her fiancé Scott tries to find some help. They find a weird cabin in the middle of nowhere, where three violent cannibalistic mountain men with the appearance of monsters live. The two couples try to escape from the mountain men while chased by them. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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 these days.
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