Wrong Turn (2003)
By: Drexl on July 27, 2004  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Pathe (UK). Region 2, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1 English Subtitles. 81 minutes
The Movie
Director: Rob Schmidt
Starring: Desmond Harrington, Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto
Screenplay: Alan McElroy
Music: Elia Cmiral and Randy Gerston
Tagline: 'It's the last one you'll ever take!'
Country: USA
Take a healthy dose of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a little bit of Deliverance and a twist of The Hills Have Eyes and the result is Director Rob Schmidt's hugely entertaining tribute to the splatter flicks of the '70's and '80's.

Chris (Desmond Harrington) is a medical professional on his way to a job interview when, due to an RTA blocking the main highway to his destination, he is forced to take an alternate route down the suspiciously named 'Bear Mtn Road.' Chris soon runs, quite literally, into a group of people heading out into the countryside for a short vacation to help their friend, Jessie (Eliza Dushku), get over a broken relationship. The six of them (three guys, three gals), now with two trashed vehicles ditched by the roadside, find themselves stranded in the middle of hillbilly territory with no means of communicating with the 'real' world.

Two of the group stay behind to guard their property while the other four set off to try and find help. They soon stumble across a run-down cabin, the grounds of which are littered with wrecked vehicles. Finding that nobody is home, the gang enter the building in the hope of finding a 'phone and discover an appalling sight of dismembered body parts strewn all over the place, rotting corpses in the bath and a general lack of cleanliness that would make even Leatherface hire a maid. Figuring that they probably aren't too welcome in this gore-splattered shithole, they attempt a quick dash out of the building only to find their only route out is barred by the returning owners of the cabin - a trio of inbred mutants who have helped themselves to their vehicles and carved up the two friends they left behind in the process. Hiding in the building, (inbred mutants obviously aren't clever enough to look under the bed), the group have to witness one of their friends being hacked apart before the trio doze off to sleep, giving them an opportunity to make a quick getaway. The four almost get out unnoticed, making it to the door before one of the freaks awakens. The group run out into the surrounding woodlands with the trio of monsters in close pursuit…

Although it's hardly drenched in originality, Wrong Turn is a tremendously entertaining eighty minutes of gory fun and, quite easily, one of the best no-brainer horror flicks I have seen in recent years. Hardly pausing for breath during its fairly short runtime, Wrong Turn manages to be exciting, suspenseful and gory enough to satisfy the horror fan on all levels. Schmidt manages to introduce some genuinely nailbiting scenes at regular intervals and treats the audience to some lovely cinematography, as well as some subtle and not so subtle nods to his favourite genre movies. The tree-top chase scene midway through the movie wins the awards for both edge-of-the-seat excitement and top eye candy. The scene where the group sneak out of the cabin, past the sleeping baddies also leads to a few well chewed fingernails. Shhhh! Mind that creaking door spring now….

The cast is made up of your typical, good looking actors and actresses but, with the help of a witty script, I actually found myself giving a damn about them, which is pretty unusual for this kind of movie. Although the 'human' characters are pretty cool, the real stars infront of the camera are the monstrous, inbred mountain-men, no surprise when you consider the involvement of special effects genius Stan Winston in the movie. With names like 'Three Finger', 'Saw Tooth' and 'One Eye', they really aren't the kind of freaks you would wish to bump into in the middle of nowhere. Schmidt successfully teases the audience with fleeting glimpses of these monsters before revealing them in all their birth-defect filled glory. Christ, even ol' Pluto himself would flee in terror if confronted by these mutants. Winston's team also contribute some fairly imaginative and bloody kill scenes, including a funky decapitation, (or, to be more exact, half decapitation), and a cool arrow-through-the-eye stunt. Gore freaks will be satisfied with the amount of splatter contained in this film as it's pretty bloody right from the word go and, I would imagine, pushed the limits of the 'R' rating in the USA.
The 16/9 enhanced transfer on offer here is a real treat. Lacking in flaws of any kind it is simply beautiful to look at; bright, colourful and detailed. The film's fiery finale is also well handled. Very good work.
The audio is, happily, also of a very high standard. The 5.1 mix is clean, punchy and loud with some excellent surround effects and some suitably beefy use of the subwoofer. The appropriately ominous score is nicely reproduced. Again, a job well done.
Extra Features
The main bonus feature is a Director/Cast commentary track. While it's not the most free-flowing and informative track I've ever heard, it's still a decent enough listen. Schmidt, whose genuine fondness for the genre is immediately apparent, is the most vocal contributor and all concerned seem genuinely pleased with how the film turned out.

Next up are four short features; three concerning the making of the movie and one being a short tribute to Stan Winston. All are pretty lightweight and short, runtime wise, but are worth a look. Next up are some deleted and extended scenes which basically consist of a slightly longer cut of an early murder and some dailies of the same scene. Pretty lame in all honesty. Rounding things off we have the film's pretty cool theatrical trailer and a short poster gallery illustrating some discarded poster designs, plus the one finally chosen to accompany the movie's release.

I must admit, I did expect more bonus goodies but what is on offer is decent enough and a worthwhile accompaniment to the main feature. The disc also carries a few trailers for some other, non-related, releases. Annoyingly, the 'menu' button is disabled so the chapter skip button must be used to bypass these and get to the main menu - a 'special feature' I could quite happily do without, thank you. The menus are animated and scored.
The Verdict
I'm happy to say that I loved every single second of this movie; the simplistic plot, the fast pacing, the '80's style camerawork and the trusted stalk and slash scenario really hit the spot for me, with my fondness for the undemanding splatter movies of the '70's and '80's. When I finished my first viewing of this film, rather than ejecting the disc I simply hit the 'play' button and watched the film over again. It's been a long while since a movie entertained me enough to warrant an immediate repeat viewing and, happily, the second viewing was just as much fun; I guess that sums up my opinion of this flick pretty well.

Oh, one more thing; make sure you watch the credits through for the obligatory twist ending rather than hitting 'stop' as soon as they begin to roll….
Movie Score
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