With Wrong Turn 5 due for release very soon, I decided to watch parts 1-4 in preparation. Rather than do individual reviews, I thought I would combine them all into one big post (which I now regret as this took me an eternity!) and here are my thoughts on the first 4 films.
Wrong Turn (2003)
Something strange is happening deep in the woods. But no one has lived to tell about it. Chris Finn (Desmond Harrington – ‘Dexter’) is on his way to an interview when he is faced with a huge backup in traffic. He makes a u-turn, taking a short cut to avoid the traffic. But he makes the biggest mistake of his life. This wrong turn may be the last turn he ever makes. After crashing the car into a group of young friends led by Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), an indescribable nightmare begins. Stranded on an isolated road deep in the woods, there seems to be no hope of rescue. When the friends encounter a group of monstrous mountain men with murder and mayhem on their mind, they must escape from a fate worse than death. As the grisly tension gathers in manic pace and shifts into high homicidal gear, only the strongest will survive.
Wrong turn is a very well done scary and creepy horror film. It’s always nice to watch something where you actually want these characters to make it out alive. Dushku is fantastic in her role as the strong female survivor, and again it’s a rare treat to get a lead that actually doesn’t do stupid stereotypical mistakes like most people in horror films do, that leaves us viewers screaming at the TV. Sure, there is nothing ground breaking on show here. We get some “Deliverance” references now and then, and it’s also very reminiscent of films such as a “Last House on the Left”, “The Hills Have Eyes”, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, and loads more. On this occasion though it doesn’t come across as a rip off from these movies, it’s definitely more of a homage to, and taking bits that worked from those movies and implementing them here.
Over the course of the movie, we never really see much of the clan chasing our innocent group, but when we do see them it shows how great the make up and costume props are – these hillbilly inbreds look very believable and scary, whilst also being excellent hunters. Which leads me onto the death scenes, which are a particular highlight in this franchise. The kills are very effective and absolutely gory too, so if you are a fan of brutal death scenes, you will almost definitely dig the deaths. Always unpredictable and different, using weapons that you could imagine people like this could get their hands on, just adds another positive rating to a very good film.
I loved Wrong Turn when I saw it years ago for the first time, and I still love it now even after several re-watches. It’s funny, violent, scary and full of suspense. Capped off with some great performances, Wrong Turn offers up a great time!
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)
One Wrong Turn deserves another. Acclaimed director Joe Lynch paints the screen red in this jump-out-of-your-seat sequel to the popular horror hit. Starring Erica Leerhsen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and hardcore rock icon Henry Rollins (Feast), Wrong Turn 2 unleashes its deformed bunch of inbred cannibals on another set of unsuspecting individuals, resulting in a gory bloodbath. Six contestants led by the headstrong Nina Papas (Leerhsen) assemble in the desolate woodlands of West Virginia to take part in the latest US reality show. Over the next five days they must battle against the elements in a simulated wasteland to see who will emerge the ultimate survivor and pocket the $100,000 first prize. But the participants are soon fighting for survival in even deadlier game when they encounter a family of flesh-hungry mutants intent of having them for dinner…
Sequels are always a tricky thing to do well. 4 years after the original, we got Wrong Turn 2. This time a group of reality contestants are the victims to our inbred clan, and in a weird way this actually works really well! The best thing here is Henry Rollins – he is absolutely fantastic in this role, and as an ex-marine we finally have someone that can match the killers.
As this (like all the films aside from the original) went straight to DVD, I think the creators had a little more fun with their work, and started testing how far they could push the censors. The kill scenes are way more horrific here, and we also get nudity, sex and some mutant inbred sex for good measure………..
Having cameras set up around the woods was a clever plot device as this enabled us to see the mutants at work, but more importantly the contestants presumed everything was all part of a game – until it was too late that is! The cast were all pretty likeable, and gave strong performances. I have to admit it is pretty hard to predict who is going to survive or die, the writers did a great job with this! There are a few plot holes and cheesy lines here and there, sure, but who cares, this film isn’t aiming for any awards but just wants to deliver a good time, and I would say it succeeds.
Seeing as the original is very serious, eerie, and scary, the sequel tries to be quite the opposite – just a simple, hardcore, highly entertaining, no-brain, and brutal splatter movie which doesn’t take itself seriously. And it works, luckily for us, so if you enjoyed part 1 you will enjoy this!
Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009)
It’s hunting season in the deep back woods for Three Finger and his family of hideously deformed inbred cannibal hillbillies. The fight for survival is futile and each successive killing is more gruesome than the last as the cannibals relentlessly stalk a group of attractive young hikers and a group of escaped convicts after their bus crashes on a remote country road.
Initially, I thought the plot was fairly well thought out and had the potential to work quite well. However, for me ultimately it didn’t work. I understand that this was a low-budget horror movie but it could have been done so much better. The casting of British actors in American parts didn’t help the film either. Britain’s very own Tamer Hassan often reveals his strong London accent. I actually quite like him, and thought he carried the film well as one of the prisoners, but there are too many negatives on show here and it seemed as though the franchise was just plodding along not offering anything new.
The amateurish, obvious computer effects completely ruin the majority of the kills. It’s also painfully obvious and laugh-out-loud funny that characters “driving” in one scene are being subject to some woeful rear-projection CGI as well. Very embarrassing to see. For the first time I actually hated an ending to a Wrong Turn film. Just nothing seemed to work here, such a shame after the heights the first two films hit.
Of course, there are a couple of good things. The kills as always were ingenious and bloody, and we got a nice couple of nods to the original film (the fire for example), but everything else led me to believe that this would be the last we would see of this franchise. How wrong I was……
Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (2011)
This chapter of Wrong Turn takes you to the most terrifying place of all – the bloody beginnings. An isolated sanatorium deep in the West Virginia wilderness is deserted after an inbred family of hillbilly cannibals escape and take revenge on their captors. Decades later, a group of college students seek refuge in the now-abandoned hospital after a blizzard derails their plans for a weekend winter break. But when the students encounter the medical ward’s most frightening former patients, their only choice is to fight back – or die trying.
Smaller budget = cast full of people we have never heard of, and the film takes place pretty much solely in one inside location. Not the best start, as for me Wrong Turn should be out in the woods where the cannibals roamed. Still, after a brief introduction to our cannibal friends, we have Wrong Turn 4, our first prequel, and despite all its flaws, it isn’t a bad movie. Sure, the acting isn’t great, the script is cheesy and we get some awful looking effects on some kills. BUT……..we get some more great kills, some funny moments and lots of attractive people to distract us, and for the first time in Wrong Turn history – lesbians! The film makers are pulling out all the stops to get people watching this.
Joking aside, there are a lot of questionable decisions made by the folks in this film. Whereas I stated that in parts 1 & 2, what worked so well was how believable some actions were, part 4 goes the opposite direction in that regard. The height of stupidity in this film occurs when the college kids manage to capture the hillbillies and have them locked in a jail cell. One of the guy’s throws kerosene everywhere and is set to burn the cannibals after what he has witnessed them do to his friends, but one of the girls puts a stop to it saying that it is immoral and that they shouldn’t sink to the hillbillies level. Try and guess what happens next?! Yep, they escape and the shit hits the fan.
I get the feeling that by this point the only redeeming qualities the later films have (aside from hot girls) is the variety and excellent kills that are displayed every now and again. Some look awful, but the majority are excellently done and it’s always impossible to know who is next. The ending to Wrong Turn 4 is at least better than part 3’s, and whilst not entirely an accurate depiction of believability (I’m guessing, never tried what happens to them at the end obviously!) it still delivered a shock and surprise which the others lacked.
I loved the idea of going back to the beginning and showing how these cannibals started out, and the scientific explanation was a nice move. Whilst not being in the same league as the first two, at least part 4 is miles ahead of part 3, and puts the franchise going back in the right direction. Let’s hope Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines which comes out in a few weeks continues the trend and takes the franchise forward in a good way.
In the next chilling chapter of Wrong Turn, a small West Virginia town is hosting the legendary Mountain Man Festival on Halloween, where throngs of costumed partygoers gather for a wild night of music and mischief. But an inbred family of hillbilly cannibals kill the fun when they trick and treat themselves to a group of visiting college students who are dying for a good time…
EDIT: My review for Wrong Turn 5 can be found HERE! (The film was surprisingly good!)