If you, like me think that it’s enough already with those ironic, genre-commentating slashers – Then Rob Schmidt’s WRONG TURN is a film for you. Would you agree that a return to the roots, or the forest, as it were, would be welcome? – Then WRONG TURN is definitely for you. Do you think that a slasher film needs no plot or proper storyline? - Nothing more than the alluring idea of a bunch of teenagers lost in the woods, being hunted down one by one by inbred cannibals. Then WRONG TURN probably is the film of the 2000’s for you. Because that is just what you get. But hold on for a minute, as great as it may sound, sadly it doesn’t really deliver full out. Why the hell not, you may very well ask. Well it’s hard to say but here goes…
Enter: Chris - a likeable young man on his way to…well… it doesn’t quite explain, but he is in a hurry. Of course the freeway is blocked with traffic. And of course our friend heads back up the road to find a way around the mess, through the dense West Virginia forests. Enter: the ominous, toothless gas station attendant with an old map who, had Chris known better, or indeed starred in one of those aforementioned ironic SCREAM-esque slashers, would been a clear warning to anyone not to press on into the woods on an old dirt road. Enter: The five teenagers with a punctured tire on a camping trip. Chris, being of a distracted mindset finds road kill more interesting than checking the road ahead for blocking cars. Enter: a car crash, disabling the both cars. Finally, enter: an inbred trio of giggling man-eating illiterates. Well, there you have it folks, a classic slab of back woods slasher thrills. Filled with nasty mutilations, rickety cabins with rotting corpses, heart in mouth chase sequences, incompetent forest rangers and a touch of weed and sex.
And still only two stars? I know, It’s impossible. But WRONG TURN makes the impossible possible with a touch of half-heartedness and a dash of emptiness that ruins the gumbo for seasoned fans. Secondly, if anything, it ends up more entertaining than exciting. To be honest, for me that wouldn’t be a problem had it been made in the 1980’s, with all the added cheesy charms a good ol’ day’s slasher brings, but here there is no goofy bontempi music, no T&A, no high school film characters, no crude comic relief and no jaw-dropping murder scenes. Ultimately it lacks in freshness and the spontaneity, the very “anything-goes-spirit”, if you will, that characterise genre clones like THE BURNING (1981) or MADMAN (1981). What director Rob Schmidt end up with is simply a straight-faced and competent revival of and old formula. And maybe that’s the real problem, the slasher films of the 80’s were a lot of things, but seldom straight-faced and competent.
But there is a plus side Rob Schmidt’s revival attempt, mainly the first half an hour or so builds quite well, to the point that for a moment it had me thinking that WRONG TURN was indeed the fine crafted retro styled slasher I’m waiting for. Also unlike many of the slashers of later years the film does not rely on action flick-like sequences and tries it best to build on tension and nastiness. Actually I can’t stress enough how close to the classic ground it does tread in way of technique and tone. So really the strength of the film, no pun intended, is the fact that the back woods slasher is back! And that can’t be all bad, now can it?
Justin says: Just wanting to add my tuppence (or whatever currency we're talking here!). I broadly agree with Bengt's point-of-view here, but, to be honest, I'd probably bung on another star. I saw WRONG TURN at the cinema, where it worked really well - possibly better than it does on DVD. Generally, as a return to the nasty horror of the 70s and early 80s, this is far more effective than the trumpeted likes of CABIN FEVER, which I feel was roundly was sunk by its juvenile humour and uneven tone. WRONG TURN is violent, fast paced, well acted and exciting (especially the superbly executed treetop chase), but like Bengt I can't help but feel there's something missing. One thing that is definitely missing is the additional 15 minutes which would bring it up to the 95 minutes mark. The film doesn't outstay its welcome but it does seem a little rushed - a tad unfinished - in places, which might hint at some production problems. Also, I know the slasher flick - as a subgenre - isn't renowned for its innovativeness but a little twist outside of the norm might of helped. Jeff Lieberman's superlative JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981) showed that you could take a very cliched source and give it a refreshing - or in that case gruesome - new lease of life. Anyway, when are we going to get to see a movie about a nice, inbred mutant family going on a trip to Los Angeles and being terrorised by a bunch of pretty but insane TV stars? That I'd pay to see.
female:3 / male:7
1) Male thrown off cliff
2) Female killed, method unseen
3) Male killed, method unseen
4) Female strangled with barb wire
5) Male killed by bow and arrow
6) Female chopped through mouth with axe
7) Male shot through head by bow and arrow
8) Male burned to death
9) Male burned to death
10) Male killed with axe, off screen