Review Date: May 30, 2003
Director: Rob Schmidt
Writer: Alan B. McElroy
Producers: Brian Gilbert, Stan Winston
A preppy dude on his way to a big interview must take the backroads through the woods due to a traffic jam on the highway and crashes into a van, stuck by the side of a road, packed with young girls in tight tops and their rinky-dink boyfriends. Deciding that the best way to get out of there is to walk to the nearest gas station, the gang set out, but it isn't long before certain undesirable locals with machetes and axes start using them to gather heads for their growing collection. A WRONG TURN indeed!!!
Just like THE ITALIAN JOB, a genre film which is also opening on the same day as this movie, WRONG TURN does a decent job of doing what it needs to do in its niche, without getting too original at any point, without developing many of its characters at any point and without giving you much to remember three minutes after you walk out of the movie theater. Having said that, it entertained me for "what it was", which in this case was a "scary movie" packed with a number of disposable characters, many tops in tight chicks or chicks in tight tops (however you like it), moments of shock, a tinge of horror, suspense, a little action and in my humble opinion, quite a bit of off-screen disgustingness. The story is also as straightforward as you can get (kids get lost in the woods, fucked up inbred loonies want to kill them), but it surprisingly still managed to hold my attention for most of the way, although its first half was probably more effective than its latter half. One of the reasons for that is because the film doesn't really have too many characters, so as soon as they're done with the obvious ones, all you're left with is the woods and the ever-popular nutballs who never seem to die no matter what you do to them. That was actually one of the film's more successful points, that being the actual people/monsters who were committing the atrocities, since they were never fully disclosed (you get a lot of quick shots of them as well as mumbles and grunts), and therein, kept me on my toes the whole way. A couple of particularly disturbing sequences included the kids caught in a cabin as the ogres came home with dead bodies to chop (brrrrrrrrrr) and the kids at the top of a watchtower (I was actually wondering how they would get out of there). The gore is also a plenty here. I was quite surprised that they showed one particular girl's complete chopped up body in one scene. Yummy...'tis not.
There were also a few very "cool" death scenes including one in which a certain someone's head is left dangling and another, which I won't give away here, but I will ask you to remember a quote from the person before their demise: "What dead people?" Great shot! But as per most films of its ilk, this one also suffers from poor characterization (two of the kids are stoners, two are "in love" and two are the more serious-minded), mediocre acting and iffy dialogue in parts, ridiculous points like the girls' faces still looking perfectly sweatless/make-up'd for most of the way and the dumbass kids thinking that they can escape the mindless rednecks by climbing into a 100-foot watchtower?!? Also, despite the score working in certain spots, it was curiously very loud in others. Strange and off-putting. Eliza Dushku, who happens to be the "biggest" name among the cast, was also surprisingly boring and looked as though she didn't really want to be there. I didn't think that she needed to play these types of roles in her career anymore, so I guess I see where she's coming from, but that still didn't make her deliveries any less stale. Jeremy Sisto, on the other hand, was the mack, and his girlfriend Emmanuelle Chriqui, a cutie-pie with a great rack. But the glue that generally holds flicks like this together is the believability of the lead, and in this case, Mr. Desmond Harrington did a formidable job of playing the "serious guy" who turns into an all-out action hero by the end. Not the most creative film of the year (didn't HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES cover the exact same ground a couple of months ago...and with more panache?), but good enough to warrant a watch on a dark, grungy, creepy night with only your briefs, your nachos, your Kleenex and your affinity to "this type" of movie in tow. Go Orcs!!
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian