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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 152: Wrong Turn

Wrong Turn
"I just want a little nibble"

Some of the scariest and most lasting movies are ones that take place in real locations with real people serving as villains. Deliverance is a prime example of people and events that can actually happen in real life. Just about everyone knows the twangy banjo music and “the scene” from Deliverance as because it is so terrifying and can easily happen. Sure, mutants and creatures are scary, but it's human beings committing horrible acts that really hits close to home. It's also a good example of hillbillies (Hillwilliams if you prefer) or “mountain folk” serving as the real life monsters in horror movies.

Wrong Turn is a 2003 horror/action movie starring Desmond Harrington (Ghost Ship, Dexter) as Chris Flynn, a med student traveling through West Virginia on his way to a job interview in North Carolina. A traffic jam causes him to travel unpaved back roads in hopes of bypassing the congestion and making it to his interview on time. A slight distraction leads to Chris slamming into a jeep stopped into the middle of the road. The jeep belongs to a group on a hiking trip who stopped because they ran over barbed wire strewn across the road. The group includes Eliza Dushku (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The New Guy) as Jessie, Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage, You Don't Mess With The Zohan) as Carly and Jeremy Sisto (Clueless, Law & Order) as Carly's fiance, Scott. Chris, along with those three, go walking down the road looking for help, while two others stay back. The two that stay back are brutally murdered by unseen figures. The rest of the group finds an isolated cabin in the woods filled with various trinkets, belongings, and human body parts. They try to leave, but the owners, three deformed mountain men arrive. After watching them eat the corpse of one of their friends, the group escapes out the back, but are pursued by the hillbillies. Chris tries to distract them well the other three steal their truck, but is shot in the leg. Scott creates a diversion and the hillbillies give chase while Jessie, Carly, and Chris steal their truck. Scott is shot and killed with arrows and the truck gets stuck in the mud. The group makes it to a watchtower where they radio for help, but the hillbillies torch the structure, forcing the group to jump onto surrounding trees. One hillbilly climbs up and beheads Carly. Jessie is eventually captured and taken back to the cabin. Will Chris be able to stop the cannibalistic hicks?

It's like an Abecrombie & Fitch ad come to life

The story in Wrong Turn is your basic “run from the crazy killers” horror movie. We get the good looking teenagers out to an isolated area and then chase them down. There's nothing wrong with that scenario, but it requires something extra, something special that sets it apart from the countless number of similar plots. Unfortunately, Wrong Turn doesn't really do anything to make it stand out from the pack. Other than being crazy mutated cannibals, there is never a specific reason for why the hillbillies are going after the group. I guess you don't really need a reason beyond that, but it would have been nice. I think the main reason why the movie wasn't particularly frightening was that it was set mostly during the day. There are some scenes at night, but not nearly enough. It seems like a wasted opportunity to terrify the audience with startling cuts, music swells, and other horror tricks. In the daylight, you just see that the pursuers are just deformed bumpkins in overalls. It kind of kills the horror when you look at the villains and all you hear in your head is twangy getaway music.

Wrong Turn has a good amount of action and violence with a few gory scenes. For having a movie with cannibals, there should have been a lot more blood and violence. Why bother making them cannibals if you aren't going to show a lot of flesh eating and bone gnawing? The acting is solid throughout with good performances by just about everyone involved. Desmond Harrington plays the handsome hero well and Elisa Dushku plays her part well enough. Director Rob Schmidt (Masters of Horror: Right To Die, The Alphabet Killer) does a good job of capturing the action without resorting to shaky camera tricks.

Knife to see you

This movie has it's moments, but could have been much better. While there is some good action and violence, there just wasn't enough for what the movie deserved. When you have a basic plot, you need to set yourself apart, and Wrong Turn didn't really accomplish that task. The acting and directing are good, but it only goes so far. That's not to say Wrong Turn is bad, because it's not, but it could have been great. It's a decent watch, spawning three sequels, and possibly another one in the near future. While not the best “pursued in the woods” movie, Wrong Turn is still worth a viewing.


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