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Wrong Turn (2003)
 
 
 Directed by: Rob Schmidt
 Starring: Desmond Harrington/Chris
Eliza Dushku/Jessie
Emmanuelle Chriqui/Carly
Jeremy Sisto/Scott
 
RATING

PLOT-CRUNCH:


Late for a meeting and stuck in traffic, medical student and professional brooder Chris (Harrington) takes a back woods road as a short cut and accidentally crashes into another car belonging to two couples and a tough chickadee (Dushku). Our fashionably dressed gang find themselves stranded in the woods and luckily for us, three deformed, inbred psycho loonies are there to keep them warm and fuzzy company. Take out the axe and give out some loving!
  

THE LOWDOWN:


"We are never going into the woods again!"-- Scott

The first words that came out of my mouth when leaving "Wrong Turn" were: "GOOD SHITE" and "I HAD A BLAST"! I could stop my review right here, but I’ll expand. This throwback to shameless 70’s style cannibal-family-on-the-rampage horror didn’t reinvent the torture table or bring much fresh meat to the grind, but it came out a big winner via a rock solid execution and an emphasis on an element that is always heart-warming to witness in this type of bloody bon-bon: unrestrained brutality!

Admittedly, the wide ass smile gracing my smug face throughout this watch were mostly derived from the film’s exploitive sugar which was heavily sprinkled about. It got all the right reactions out of me. I can’t count how many times I jumped in my seat, reacted loudly to a kill or wiggled around in gleeful anticipation as to what was going to go down next. The enthralling action scenes undeniably pushed all of my right “horror cum” buttons with the extensive stalk-and-hide “tree” jamboree serving as the highlight. That bit was definitely one for the bloody books! YEAH! The ample and “realistic” gore found in this madhouse also hit the spot in its extreme and refreshingly graphic nature (all about that decapitation). Tag to all that, a suspense quotient that was jacked up to HIGH volume and you get one intense buck and half.

On a character level, some of the players were “whatever” and it was very easy to pick out who would live and who would die…even in what order. Having said that, I had a riot playing the guessing game, being right all the time and watching the kids consequently checking out in messy ways. We all get our kicks in different ways compadres! Of the lot, my fav player was Chris (Harrington) who had my vote for the hippest cat in this gory litter. The man was a take charge, kool as ice, brave mofo and I was rooting for him like a cheerleader on speed. I also dug ”peace and love” Scott (played by the always money Jeremy Sisto) who had all the funniest lines as well. Eliza Dusku (playing Jesse) surprisingly didn’t have much to toy with in terms of characterization, as her white tank top and tight Jeans had more depth than her character. That being said, the last time I checked...that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I loved her every moment on-screen and so did the animal in my pants. Lastly we had the big bad rabid fruitcakes in the yard. Props goes out to Stan Winston for creating a credible and frightening deformed family and to director Schmidt for knowing how much to show and not to show in order to retain the fear they should provoke in the audience. There was nothing complex about these relentless bums and I appreciated that-- they were stupid, ugly and enjoyed killing...a lot. My kind of nutballs!

But let’s face it, this isn’t “Hamlet” we’re talking about here...it’s a dirty horror sandwich that goes heavy on the sauce and the spices as it damn should. So even though the dialogue blew at times (if I hear “Hello, anybody here?” one more time...I’ll kill Ronald MacDonald), the characters made stupid moves (the tower…yeah, guys…great idea) and typical horror conventions were followed to a T (you give head…you RIP), it didn’t bother me much. Horror clichés and a cheesy vibe are not always negative for me, they’re part of the genre that I love and in some sittings...they’re part of the fun. This was one of those times.

Overall, "Wrong Turn" was a balls-to-the-wall horror ride that didn’t shy away from the goodies. What I got dealt here was a gripping, unapologetic genre film that occasionally wound up being really fun when it was bad-- in other words, it was hard for this one to fail in my eyes since I got so many different levels of enjoyment out of it. Ugly and scary mountain-men? Check! Lots of potent scares and nasty spills? Check! Hot teen chicks in minimal clothing? Check!! Intentional and unintentional laughs? Check!!! What else do you want in a horror whore? I don’t know about you, but I’m one happy camper. Viva Wrong Turn!
 

ACTING:


Desmond Harrington (Chris) underplayed it and his character’s strength really appealed to me. Class act. Eliza Dushku (Jesse) could’ve been playing a sheep and I still would’ve loved her. Her character was thinner than ice, but her magnetism and her hot looks kept my eyes glued. Emmanuelle Chriqui (Carly) showed off a solid delivery and one cute belly button. Jeremy Sisto (Scott) was mucho endearing and funny as hell. He made the bad lines sound good. I love this dude! Keep doing horror movies buddy! Linda Booth (Francine) didn’t have much to do here, but look yummy and did an awesome job at it. Linda, call me….I’m not kidding…call me. No, you don’t get it honey…CALL ME! !!
 

GORE:


How do I love my plasma...let me count the ways: dismembered bodies, arrows in the back, an arrow in the head (you bet!), barbed wire choking, a priceless decapitation and more! This one will give boners to gore hounds.
   

T & A:


Sadly, we didn’t get any blatant female nudity but hey man, can you go wrong with Linda Booth teasing us with her oranges and looking damn fine? Can you fail with Emmanuelle Chriqui displaying cleavage and that scrumptious belly button proudly? I didn’t think so. The ladies get Desmond Harrington’s flawless tan and Jeremy Sisto’s wild hair.
   

DIRECTING:


Schmidt did a bang-on job here, keeping it simple to maximize the impact of the film, while at times displaying the occasional “stylish” shot. There was definitely a gritty 70’s feel to the movie and it charmed the pants out of me. Add to that, a strong handle on delivering nail-biting tension and you get a well-rounded directing show. Good work Taco...do more horror!
   

SOUNDTRACK:


The aggressive score by Elia Cmiral was effective most of the way, but kind of went tacky during the softer scenes. We also got a couple of “generic” rock songs.
   

DVD FEATURES:


 Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Release Date: October 14, 2003

IMAGE: The Widescreen 2.35:1 anamorphic image was enhanced for 16x9 TVs. The image itself was crisp, the colors vibrant and the blacks solid. Grade A! We also get a Full Screen option.

SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound was clear and even. We also get a French - Dolby Digital Surround option.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: Rob Schmidt, Desmond Harrington, Eliza Dushku: This commentary had its fair share of dead time. Schmidt was the more verbal, giving us insight as to the film's style, the actors, the cinematography and more. Dushku did warm up as the film moved along and talked about her experience. As for Desmond, he was asleep at the wheel, randomly mumbling or cracking jokes. Not much info from this lad. We also get some trivia, some funny comments at the action on-screen, some meat about the sets and the stunts. This wasn't the most gripping of commentaries, but if you give it time, it gets better as it progresses. Dead time phobics beware.

Featurette- Making of Wrong Turn: This tightly edited feature acts as an extended ad for the film with clips, on-set footage and cast and crew comments all around. A harmless and entertaining feature.

Eliza Dushku- Babe in the Woods: Amidst some on-set footage, Rob Schmidt and Stan Winston come in to kiss that Dushku ass. Yes, they praise the gal to high heaven. Miss Dushku also steps in to talk about her role, her experience and the stunts that she did. Decent.

Stan Winston Featurette: Mr. Winston comes in to talk about how he got started in the effects business, his evolution right up to becoming a producer. Stills of a young Winston and clips from the film are cleverly inter-cut with the man's yapping. Groovy!

To get to the rest of the EXTRAS...flip the disk over tiger!

Deleted Scenes:

Waterfall: This is an extended variation of the Dushku-to-Desmond speech behind the waterfall. Here, it goes on longer and ends with a passionate kiss. Kool scene, but I'm happy they snipped it out. It would've stopped the pacing dead in its tracks.

Francine Kill: This kill scene looked a lot like the one found in the film. If there was any gore added to it, it must have been about a micro second. Disappointing.

Francine Kill Dailies: Here we get to witness various takes of Francine (played by Linda Booth) getting the barb wire in her mouth. Fun at first, but then becomes redundant.

Fresh Meat- The Wounds of Wrong Turn: I call this feature "Quickie Wrong Turn 101" where they cover many aspects of the film in a swift fashion. We get insight as to the screenplay, how director Rob Schmidt got the gig, the making of the mountain men, the nature of the creatures, the making of the death scenes and more. Speedy, informative and an easy watch.

We also get Poster Concept (4 different poster variations) and the uncut Trailer that Fox wouldn't air on the big screen (pussies).

The "Wrong Turn" DVD is decent and fans of the film will get a stab out of it. The audio/visual juice is top notch! As for the extras, while there were many, some were decent, while others, disappointing. I also would've liked to have heard comments from cast and crew about the half-cocked treatment Fox gave the film upon its theatrical release. None of that here. Overall the DVD was okay...could've been better, but as is, just okay.
   

BOTTOM LINE:


They are horror movies that I like to watch for high IQ and subtlety and there are movies like "Wrong Turn" that are not necessarily the sharpest tools in the shed, but that kick serious ass by awakening fear, shock, tension, cheap laughs and outspoken “fuck yeahs” in yours truly. Sure, for anybody that’s seen "TCM" and "Deliverance", you won’t find much that’s original in terms of content here, but this film took those known conventions and executed them with skill while slapping in a strong dose of sadism and tasty horror cheese. I’m glad I took this right turn and wound up seeing this ballsy, bad to the bone popcorn funboy...it made my horror day!
 

BULL'S EYE:


In the screenplay, Francine's corpse gets raped by the inbred clan. Too bad that bit didn’t make the film.

Alan B. McElroy wrote the screenplay.

Rob Schmidt also directed "Crime and Punishment in Suburbia".

Read my interview with director Rob Schmidt here

Read my interview with Emmanuelle Chriqui here

Discuss this movie on The Arrow's HORROR BOARD
      

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The Way The Arrow Points...

   
 I’d BUTCHER my family to see this again
 HANG me but I dug it a lot
 An ok way to KILL two hours
 Just sling an ARROW in my head and let me die in peace

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