A group of young people go into the woods, and get stranded. Then an inbred cannibalistic family attacks and slaughters them. Where have we heard that before? Yes, Texas Chain Saw and The Hills Have Eyes loom large over Wrong Turn, but this is more teen horror in the current post-Scream style, albeit without the bad jokes.
The scares are of good quality, although there's little in the way of tension building. Two people are killed before the opening credits, with another two dying five minutes later, about thirty seconds after they're introduced. The surviving characters are stereotypes, with no cunning subversion going on. It's usually a given in horror that a arrogant young male hero type will die or be revealed as evil, or both, but it's obvious here that the film loves him, and it indulges him like a momma.
Desmond Harrington looks like a buffed up Johnny Vaughn and plays the part of hero Chris Flynn in the old fashioned John Wayne style, utterly arrogant, high handed, always right, and really quite annoying. Eliza Dusku from Buffy insists on playing her character Jessie in her usual tough girl style, even though the part as written is a vulnerable victim. True, she gets to fight back now and then, but she still ends up being tied to a bed, waiting to be rescued (and why do the mutants leave her tied there, when they've killed very other victim immediately?)
The story taps into quite primitive stuff, with some scenes lifted wholesale from fairy tales. The room you don't want see inside comes courtesy of Bluebeard, while an escape past sleeping monsters is from Jack and the Beanstalk. It's a credit to all concerned that they make something so simple work as well as it does. Stan Winston's effects also help: they're excellent, proving yet again that special make-up is still much better than dodgy CGI. Sadly, the murders are not quite graphic enough. Even so, Wrong Turn is great fun to watch. 7/10
Adrian Horrocks (March 2005)
Hills Have Eyes, The
Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The (1974)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (2003)
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