Chris Finn (Desmond Harrington) is a medical student running late for an important interview. When the highway is blocked by a serious accident, he decides to take a short-cut through West Virginia’s backwoods country – an area where several people have mysteriously disappeared. Just as Chris thinks he’s caught a break, he runs (literally) into a group of friends on a camping expedition. With both cars disabled, Chris together with the recently dumped Jessie (Eliza Dushku); and the newly-engaged Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Scott (Jeremy Sisto) set out for help. The other two campers, Francine (Lindy Booth) and Evan (Kevin Zegers), decide to stay with the vehicles. In the remote wilderness, the party stumble upon an apparently occupied cabin. But when they enter, they find it’s a house of horror – and that Francine and Evan have suffered a terrible fate at the hands of mutated cannibals.
Review by David Edwards:
Teens in danger – check; horribly deformed yet somehow superhuman killers – check; a remote location – check; all manner of grisly goings-on – check. Looks like we’ve got ourselves a horror movie. In fact, Wrong Turn’s director Rob Schmidt so self-consciously references other films – from Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Cape Fear – that it feels like we have several movies going on at once here. However, this turns out to be one of those by-the-numbers genre pictures in which you’ve probably guessed the ending 10 minutes in. Sure, there are a few twists along the way, but there’s never any real doubt about the outcome. Schmidt resists the temptation to make his film a Scream-style, self-referential, tongue-in-cheek horror flicks. Instead, (and to his credit) he stays true to the horror genre and thankfully creates several scenes of real tension. One involving a desperate escape from a burning forestry tower is a cracker. These not only keep the film bubbling along, but provide enough distraction that the audience never gets to really consider how truly dumb the story is. That’s apparent within the first few minutes, as the opening credits explain what it is that’s lurking out there in the wilderness. Even if your scientific knowledge is limited to catching the odd show on the Discovery Channel, you’ll find it hard to swallow. While Schmidt telegraphs every increasingly gory killing well in advance, his sure grasp on the material ensures that they’re shocking nonetheless. The young cast make a generally good fist of the limited material, but then this is a film in which physical attributes are far more important than thespian ability. That includes not simply running, jumping and dodging flying weaponry, as Schmidt adheres to the time-honoured convention of accentuating the physical attractiveness of his heroes as a contrast to the grisly visages of the bad guys. After all, why else would all the women be getting around in crop tops? Wrong Turn is a regulation slasher horror flick made passable by Schmidt’s ability to wring tension from the rather silly material. As such, it can’t exactly be called a success; it’s more aptly described as a disaster avoided.
Review by Brad Green:
In comparison, the contents of Jeffrey Dahmer’s fridge would resemble a vegan’s diet. But what do you expect to find when you take a wrong turn, sidle into a dilapidated cottage and peer uninvited into the icebox? The set-up for this schlocker is as subtle as a smack in the mouth with the sharp end of an axe (and we soon learn exactly how subtle that is). Successful, suspense-based horror relies on foreshadowing like good sex relies on lengthy, imaginative foreplay. Here, however, the filmmakers fumble quickly and awkwardly through the motions, like a would-be Casonova with cue notes stuck to the head of the bed. In this case, the guide-book is the teen-horror, self-parodies of recent years with the absurdity switched up to unbearable, yet actually played straight. A couple of rock climbers meet a mysterious, sticky end; the batteries run down on a mobile phone; the hobo at the gas station makes an enigmatic aside; and we pass some road kill just to get us in the mood. If the suspense isn’t exactly killing us, we do know that the ravenous, homicidal, genetic mutants will soon be killing off the cast -- those very same characters we have come to know, love and empathise with to the very degree one gets to know, love and empathise with a bunch of crudely drawn stick figures. The biggest challenge for any of the actors is a violent death throe, although the unconventionally spunky Eliza Dushku manages, as she has before, to inject verve into the most vapid teen cliche. The only star perhaps is the special effects make-up, courtesy of multi-Oscar winner Stan Winston, but his work is diminished by the film’s overt crassness. Unlike adult chillers such as Jaws and Alien, which milked suspense by giving us a glimpse of fin or teeth layered like Chinese boxes, the cameras can hardly wait to train in on the in-breds’ ugly mugs. My screening copped a couple of walk outs, which would no doubt please the makers of such a cynical exercise in gratuity; and I can only trust that those who took an early exit did so for the right reason. I could barely stand the dialogue myself.
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WRONG TURN (MA)
CAST: Desmond Harrington, Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto, Kevin Zegers and Lindy Booth
PRODUCER: Robert Kulzer, Erik Feig, and Stan Winston and Brian Gilbert
DIRECTOR: Rob Schmidt
SCRIPT: Alan B. McElroy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Bartley
EDITOR: Michael R. Miller, Michael Ross
MUSIC: Elia Cmiral
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alicia Keywan
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 31, 2003