We generally try to shy away from movies that were released in the theaters, and to be honest, I didn’t realize that WRONG TURN was anything but a straight-to-video. I guess the signs were there: Good production value, Eliza Dushku (hot off of “Bring It On”), Jeremy Sisto (of “Six Feet Under” fame) and a somewhat interesting premise: Cannibal Inbreeds living on an isolated patch of land up in the mountains trap and eat tourists who opt to take a shortcut through their dirt road. If it was released in the theaters, it must have left quicker than “Ishtar,” because I certainly don’t remember it.
So, here’s the plot: Dusku and Sisto, along with Sisto’s fiancé and some friends are rear-ended on a small dirt-road by Chris Flynt. After the normal “are you okay?” talk, Dushku notices that their cars tires have been slashed by barbed wire that was clearly not spread across the road by chance. Hmm…someone tried to harm us. What should we do? Go check it out, of course! So, they roam around the forest for awhile until they come upon a lone empty cabin which, of course, they choose to explore. Soon enough they realize that the inhabitants are not exactly normal city folk and the rest of the movie is a scramble out of the forest and back to civilization.
These inbreeds don’t look like your typical inbred from the South or the Midwest (I’m from the Midwest, so I can make half of that joke). Instead, they are almost ogre-ish (guess that happens with inbreeding over multiple generations) and they wield hatchets, bow & arrows and guns. I know what you are thinking. Doesn’t this sound like a certain movie involving inbreeds sans the cannibalism and bad acting? Well, sure enough, in a nod to that movie classic, Sisto’s character, in warning his fiancé that it might not be the best idea to use a restroom in an abandoned cabin in the mountains, says “I need to remind you of a little movie called Deliverance.” Note to filmmakers: acknowledging that you’re ripping off a movie within the movie doesn’t make it any less of a rip-off.
This movie has some genuinely terrifying moments and I love the simplicity of the premise. These deformed, disgusting creatures are actually scary and the best part is that for the bulk of the movie, you really don’t see them too close up. Usually, it’s just growls and grunts and scurrying. However, on a reality check point, I have a question for the writer: I thought these creatures are supposed to be slow, inbred retards, so why are these mofos navigating the trees like they’re Ewoks? As I watched an inbreed jump from branch to branch on a tree, I wanted to scream out “Make up your mind, are they humans or monkeys! Maybe inbred monkeys?”
At one point, the group finds a graveyard of cars, implying that this “trap, kill and eat” routine has been going on for awhile. Why haven’t the cops gone looking around this mountain cabin? I can just see how the conversation at the police precinct transpired.
Officer: “Sergeant, this is the 50th car to go missing on that dirt road up on the mountain. Do you think we should check out that cabin? You know, with the people who look like a cross between Gollum and the Toxic Avenger?”
Sergeant: “Of course not. They’re just inbreeds who jump from tree branch to tree branch like monkeys. Why would we ever suspect them?”
You can also have a grand-old-time picking out the horror clichés in this one. Here are a couple alerts:
How many times do we see a group running away and then suddenly a woman breaks down and can’t go on and then someone gives her this inspiring pep talk prompting her to trudge on?
Also, how many times in a horror movies’ first tense scene, after the typical opening kill, does it turn out not to be the creature, but just a friend playing a “Boo!” joke? C’mon people!!! At least try to be original! Actually, don’t. More fun for us.
You know what? I liked this movie overall. Some parts were genuinely creepy. I liked the whole, not-showing-the-creatures thing. There were some slow parts, but it kept my attention through 70% of it. Eliza Dushku is eye candy and this is terrible to say, but seeing her tied up and begging for her life is just hot. Sisto is a great actor, but he honestly can’t save the bad dialogue, like this part where he has a really sappy conversation about his potential wedding with his fiancé. So, I would say, if you want to see an interesting concept, and you need your Deliverance rip-off fixin’, you could do worse than “Wrong Turn.”
Rating **1/2 (out of four).