“A carload of six teens find themselves trapped in the woods of West Virginia, hunted down by ‘cannibalistic mountain men grossly disfigured through generations of in-breeding.'” – IMDB plot synopsis
I won’t lie to you; this plot synopsis definitely caught my eye. And strangely enough, that one sentence essentially sums up Wrong Turn in its entirety.
I am a firm believer that movies do not always have to make sense. Motives are not always necessary. Wrong Turn is a surprisingly solid entry into the “don’t ask” genre of film. Six people break down in the backwoods of West Virginia and are hunted down by a demented group of inbred savages. Why are they there? Why haven’t they been caught? The answer: Don’t ask! The mystery of it all works in the film’s favor and adds suspense.
Perhaps the biggest name on the credits for this film is Stan Winston, makeup guru. He has worked on such high profile films as Terminator 2, Edward Scissorhands, and AI: Artificial Intelligence. Here he serves as both producer and makeup artist, and he has created some truly disgusting creatures for Wrong Turn. With character names like “Three Finger”, “Saw Tooth”, and “One Eye” I think you get the picture.
The film succeeds in eliciting some true scares, particularly during a backwoods chase and a tense scene at night. Not one minute is wasted in the 90 minute runtime.
The performances…well, what can you expect? There is eye candy in the form of Eliza Dushku and Emmanuelle Chriqui, but they are essentially left to scream in the forest. Desmond Harrington gives the most notable performance as Chris, the man with the plan.
Much has been made online about the gore factor, and the fact is that there are some really disturbing images. This is definitely not for the faint of heart or a precursor to an afternoon snack.
In the end, Wrong Turn is a cut above the recent lot of slasher films because it creates a suspenseful atmosphere and does not feel as if it has to cater to audiences who want every ploy point spoon fed to them. I could see the film becoming a cult hit down the road. Thus far it has performed very poorly at the box office and will most likely have to rely on DVD to establish any kind of following.
If you still want to see it after reading this review, I recommend doing so.
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Length: 84 Minutes
Rating: R for strong violence and gore, some language, and drug use.
Theatrical Release: May 30, 2003
Directed by: Rob Schmidt
Written by: Alan B. McElroy
Cast: Desmond Harrington, Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Lindy Booth, Julian Richings