The original Wrong Turn is one of my favorite horror flicks of the Y2K decade. It’s got Eliza Dushku. It’s got that hot guy as her love interest. It’s got deformed backwoods freaks, suspense, gore. That’s all I really need to say about it. The straight-to-DVD sequels are the ones that need some nurturing….
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End
I have to say, I’ve seen people say on the message boards that this one is their favorite and better than the first. I don’t totally agree, because the first one takes itself seriously to great effect, while this one tries to be more fluffy. Come on. It’s about a bunch of young people who gather in the woods to do a ‘survival’ reality show. But it works for what it is. AND, it stars Henry Rollins—shirtless.
The opening of this sequel rox. First of all—“Electric Avenue” is playing on the radio. Bonus points. American Idol alum Kimberly Caldwell plays herself, driving down a country road looking for this stupid reality show in which she is participating, arguing with her agent about how her career sux. Not only does she have a sense of humor about it, but she actually makes quite a good scream queen. Too bad she only lasts a few minutes. The gore starts right up with a phenomenal down the center slicing. Excellent effects here.
The film is loaded with stereotypical characters, out in the woods playing a reality show game while getting offed one by one. Chicks take off their tops, kids film a porn on the side, obnoxious guy thinks it’s hot to be teamed with a lesbian and resorts to toilet humor. But who cares? We just want to see them get sliced and diced, and they do. Plus, have I mentioned, Henry Rollins is shirtless? Oh, I have? Well, did I also mention he gets roped and bound upside down?
The nastiness is good n plenty in this one. We’re introduced to a female cannibal inbred backwoods freak with a freak baby. One male freak jerks off while watching a hot chick lying by the lake—which begs the question, if they think these women are so hot to look at…why do they mutilate them and make them into dinner? This scene quickly gets horrifying because the cannibal perv is caught in the act by his freak bitch—who then runs out on the shore with a knife screaming like a banshee. Can you imagine sunning yourself in the middle of the woods when one of these things comes bursting from the forest heading right for you???
But the ultimate moment in this movie (putting aside Henry Rollins shirtless and hog-tied) has to be the freaks playing a game of sex decoy…sick. However, the film does eventually resort to more of a torture porn feel that quite resembles dinner scenes out of classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. When all is said and done, we’re left with the promise of a bright future for our cannibal inbred backwoods freaks: a baby sucking on a finger…
Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead
Okay, so the deaths are plentiful and gruesome in this one, but CGI pretty much takes over, which is a big part of this installment’s problem. On the bright side, the plot revolves around a bus full of despicable prison inmates being transported through the country when they encounter the cannibal inbred backwoods freaks, so we don’t give a SHIT who gets mangled and slaughtered.
The film starts on the rapids with just your generic group of friends hanging out in the backwoods having sex. An arrow through the boob is a great way to start the fun, but from there we’re taken to the plight of the prisoners. Sure it’s great to have a predominantly male cast, but it also means way too many egos and constant infighting. Who cares??? The lack of a real ‘human’ element in this film makes it just a battle between different gangs of barbarians.
There are a couple of deliciously gruesome deaths, but there are also WAY too many of those CGI slicing effects…you know, a series of straight blades cuts through a body, the victim stands alive just long enough to throw us look that says, “Holy shit, I’ve just been sliced like a hard-boiled egg,” and then it melts into a pile of pieces. There’s also a brain-eating scene inspired by that of Hannibal Lecter. The real downfall for this film is when they kill a dog. So pointless. On a positive note, the lone female heroine is an AWESOME screamer. Oh, and there’s a nice twist at the end.
Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings
Just how did our favorite deformed cannibal hillbillies come to be? Why, the answer is simple, as outlined in this prequel sequel. In 1974, there was this crazy house in rural West Virginia. There were loads of inbreeds being ‘studied’ there. But then one day, the inbreeds got smart. They figured out how to unlock their cages. They also must have watched a lot of modern horror during their time in the pen, because they make sure to give us a nice bit of torture as they wreak havoc on the mental institution.
Flash ahead to 2003 (get it? Before the first Wrong Turn), and it becomes even more clear that this movie was made specifically to cater to an adolescent male audience. Two couples are fucking in the same room—a guy and his girl…and an interracial lesbian couple. Another chick walks in and gives them a little scolding, is invited into bed with them, and laughingly says that she can’t because they have to get going. If she had only said yes, this would have been the beginnings of one hell of a porno instead of a horror movie.
From there, it’s a detour into backwoods slasher clichés. The gang is headed to a cabin in the woods—on snowmobiles. They get lost (one character self-referentially says they’re “making a wrong turn, I know it.”) It’s a blizzard. They need shelter. There’s a big building in the distance. It’s…an old abandoned crazy house!
Amongst our gang of young horn dogs is none other than the drug addicted boyfriend from Queer as Folk—no longer looking like a twink a decade later, and actually looking a bit pervy hanging out with these college kids.
Conveniently, there’s no cell service, and the lights are out in the building. They all go exploring, the pitch black building looks surprisingly well lit, one of the asshole dudes plays a scare prank, they finally get the lights working, there’s a music/party/dancing montage, and then they find clues about the horrible hillbillies that once roamed these halls—incredibly well kept clues like file folders and movie reels in this place that was supposed to have been abandoned for like 30 years after a horrible mass slaughter, but which is perfectly intact with fresh blankets and sheet on the beds for the kids to have sex in.
Finally, the hillbillies make themselves known and the CGI gore begins. These are some seriously smart hillbillies, even pulling the spark plugs from the snowmobiles so the kids can’t get away. Once the kids are aware of the danger, they make the most obvious decision—they split up.
Sure, there are some average kills in the film, but torture fans and homophobes will rejoice when they capture the Queer as Folk guy, strap him to a table, and systematically cut off pieces of his flesh as he screams non-stop. It may seem derivative of Hostel II, but really, it’s completely knew and original. They slice up onions and potatoes, they shish-kebab his meat, and they eat fondue style with a big vat of hot oil. I’m not kidding. About any of it. And while all this screaming is going on, the remaining friends are in another room taking a vote by show of hands to see if they should actually go save him. Again, I’m not kidding. And I’m even more not kidding when I tell you the girls enter a room single file wielding butcher knives (which made me laugh out loud), they end up locking the hillbillies in a cage, they are ready to torch the inbreeds, and then the lead chick puts on her IRC badge (Inbreed Rights Campaign) and talks them out of it.
So, are we really supposed to feel any sympathy for the remaining characters when the hillbillies escape…? And think about it—this is a prequel. The hillbillies are still a secret from civilized society when they slice up Eliza Dushku’s friends in the first movie, which can only mean one thing about how this prequel ends….