Wrong Turn (2003)

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A generic, derivative and, worst of all, boring backwoods slasher film. It sorta feels weird to see a studio-polished riff on horror concepts that were born on the fringes of mainstream cinema. When Wes Craven tackled inbred mutants in The Hills Have Eyes, it felt like you were seeing something disgusting, taboo and exciting being smuggled into the horror landscape. Here, it just feels like a product. Maybe if this was made super-cheap by a passionate bunch of amateurs, I’d be more forgiving. But with actual money and resources behind it, the short-comings are harder to swallow.

Stan Winston’s make-up effects, which by all means and purposes should be the star in a film like this, are completely undone by the flat, overlit cinematography. Any vaguely inventive kills are also hampered by completely unconvincing CGI enhancements. There’s even an utterly ridiculous – and not in the charming sense of the word – last-act battle atop some trees that feels like something out of a Tarzan movie. Might as well have called the movie Jungle Smackdown rather than Wrong Turn. Though, creatively, there are many of those too.

The only real redeeming quality of the movie, which notches it up to “fine” rather than plain old “bad”, is Eliza Dushku. She’s an actress who always gets a pass from me for some reason, and her take on horror heroine is characteristically sassy and strong. She’s way more interesting than the utterly transparent Desmond Harrington who, bizarrely, is anchored as the film’s hero. Ash Williams he aint. Once Dushku is demoted to damsel in distress in the last act and Harrington has to save her, the results are not only non-sensical but infuriating.

To be honest, I only watched Wrong Turn because I heard vaguely good things about its sequel and wanted to be upto speed. To pluck up the energy to watch another of these movies is going to be strenuous to say the least. I can’t believe it became a six-movie-strong franchise.

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