Wrong Turn review by Matt Fuerst


I may have harped on this before, but I am by nature a lazy beast and a creature of habit (that and I can't think of another introduction for Wrong Turn at this moment). Say what you will about the nature of horror movies, unappreciated by studios, marketed to the teeny boppers of the world, lots of silliness, cheese and the like, but there is one area where the horror movie is quite a forerunner: grrrrlll power. That's right, I would propose to you that the horror genre is far and away the most empowering film genre out there. I would propose if you are an independent woman out there in The Matrix, you should probably picket most of these ridiculous romantic comedies that in general, you so often love and adore. For the most part, they make you out to be a weak, meager little creature that cannot take care of yourselves, and need a big strapping man to ride in on the white horse and cure you of your ills. Demand equal footing I say! Stand toe to toe with evil psycho killers. Grab a damn kitchen knife and start slashing!

Eliza Dushku gets top billing in Wrong Turn starring as Jessie Burlingame, though her counterpart Chris Finn (Desmond Harrington) probably gets more screentime. Chris, a fresh college graduate, is on his way down the interstate for a job interview (Is Chris travelling, apparently hundreds of miles for an interview a statement of the economy? Wow.. that a moment of stream of consciousness, we now return you to our review). Of course, some damn redneck jackknifed their big rig and Chris is stuck in hours worth of standstill traffic. Being desperate, Chris decides to brave a mountain trail to shortcircuit the freeway. As is convenient, Chris happens to bump into a group of hikers, Jessie and her friends, whom ran into a bit of car troubles. You see, someone silly decided to toss some barbed wire across the road to slow down any city slickers that happened to be passin' on through.

So, the group of 6 (I would propose to you that it is not a coincidence that the number of innocent teenagers is divisible by 2) are stuck in the woods with two broken down automobiles. 4 of the group decide to set off, while 2 decide to stay behind and do what teenagers in horror movies do when they are stuck in the woods. You know... it. Well, it along with smoking some whacky weed, which is like double jeopardy in a horror movie, so you know some bad ju-ju is about to happen to poor Kevin and delicious redheaded Francine. Slowly and assuredly, the unseen people in the woods manage to take care of our promiscuous duo. Back on the hiking trail, Chris, Jessie and the two disposable friends eventually make their way to a backwoods cabin. They enter looking for help, but are greeted by a house of skank, filed to the brim with items that convince the foursome that they probably don't want to be caught in the cabin when the owners return. Unfortunately, the owners return just as they plan on leaving, and they are forced to hide. The bad news is that the owners, a set of three burly backwoods gents, have Francine's lifeless body in tow. They proceed to butcher and nibble on Francine in some nice and gory manner.

The group manages to slip out of the cabin, but are pursued by the trio of killers. The main bulk from this point on is a hide and seek type affair. The group runs through the woods, comes up with some plans to foil their hunters, followed by some more running through the woods. The settings change, there is a chase literally in the trees (which is surprisingly effective in spite of it's relatively silly nature), some time spent in a huge treefort, through a river and waterfalls, etc... The tension is kept up quite well and there is little lag. Things are wrapped up in traditional horror movie fashion. Good keeps fighting evil, the requisite happy-enough ending.

Ah, let's see where to begin. I liked Wrong Turn. I remember reading reviews during it's theatrical run praising it's level of gore, and it does do pretty well in this department. There is a goodly amount of the red stuff, and some of the scenes are pretty rough. On screen cannibalism is always welcome in the Party Fuersty household. While the pacing is very traditional for this type of movie (character introduction, surprising occurrence to characters, then the horror begins) the tension is kept ratcheted pretty high once we get into the meat and potatoes of the story. Unfortunately, that is a pretty easy thing to do when the actual runtime of the flick is at a pretty disappointing 80 minutes or so. And that's 80 minutes with a relatively stale opening sequence and credits, so we're talking of an actual runtime in the mid-70's. Around the time of the climax you are really hoping it's just the second crescendo of the film, and the rousing ending is still waiting in the wings, but nope, that truly is the end of the flick.

There were some plot developments I felt could have extended the runtime, added to the gore and body count and even improved the quality of the story. For example, we learn Chris is a doctor. I imagine that Chris could have done some more doctorly things in the flick, being healing himself or a member of the party, or attempting to fight back against the killers using some doctorly knowledge like MacGuyver. Chris bumps across a bumbling State Trooper, who is quickly dispatched by an arrow from the killer. Well how about expanding the troopers role and have them descend on the cabin, just to have the killers fight back and wipe out a couple more troopers. C'mon people, any excuse to kill some more people onscreen!

The Wrong Turn DVD doesn't exactly get the 4 star treatment unfortunately. The disc has full screen version on one side, with the widescreen anamophic on the flip side. There is a commentary track with the director and Dusku which I didn't listen to. There were 3 scenes in the Deleted Scenes section. The first scene was additional boring talky material, the second was, as far as I could tell, the exact same Francine kill scene that was present in the movie, and the final was the dailies from the Francine kill. While the dailies were interesting, none of the scenes were particularly interesting, so I was pretty bummed with the DVD. I was hoping there was some additional footage that was trimmed for the theatrical R rating, with that footage either integrated into the movie for an Unrated DVD release or part of the extras, but no dice. Definitely not a buyer for me.

Wrong Turn isn't going to be the flick to turn people onto the slasher genre. If you're not a fan of your average slasher flick, there isn't anything here that is going to make you decide otherwise. If you like this type of movie, you should probably give it a shot. The tension is effective and the gore is above average for a theatrical R movie.

5 out of 10 Jackasses
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