Wrong Turn

2003, Movie, R, 95 mins

Review

WRONG TURN
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Six young people get lost in the West Virginia backwoods and make DELIVERANCE (1972) jokes until the jokes stop being funny. That would be right around the time the first hapless out of towner winds up being butchered for lunch. En route to a job interview and running late, Dr. Chris Finn (Desmond Harrington) escapes a massive traffic jam and takes an alternate route down Bear Mountain Road, one of those dotted lines on the map that any horror-film connoisseur knows leads nowhere but Hell on Earth. A few twists and turns down the road from the ramshackle gas station with no working phone he runs headlong into another car, this one carrying five friends on a camping trip. At least, it was carrying them until they blew out their tires on a piece of barbed wire stretched deliberately across the road. Chris, go-to girl Jessie (Eliza Dushku) and newly engaged Carly and Scott (Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto) head down the road in search of help, while good-natured pot-heads Francine and Evan (Lindy Booth, Kevin Zegers) remain behind to become the first victims. The discovery of a filthy cabin filled with meaty remains provides the other four with their wake-up call, but it comes a little late: The cabin's three deformed, ruthless inhabitants (Julian Richings, Garry Robbins, Ted Clark) are on their way home. Neither screenwriter Alan McElroy nor director Rob Schmidt has any new ideas about what goes on in the deep dark woods: Their film is a shameless amalgam of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974), RITUALS and THE HILLS HAVE EYES (both 1978), FINAL TERROR (1981) and HUNTER'S BLOOD (1988), with a healthy dash of novelist Jack Ketchum's Off Season and the notorious "Home" episode of The X-Files. But they have the utmost confidence in lean, mean — very mean — bogey tales about clueless city slickers and cannibalistic, inbred mountain folk, and the wisdom to update certain genre clichés while preserving others intact. No one's out in the woods in high-heeled sandals and even the wimpy girl pulls herself together in a crunch (for all the good it does her), but the arrival of help is inevitably cruelly negated, and the remorseless freaks are, as ever, tougher than cockroaches and way uglier. The result is sheer, unadulterated nastiness with no apologies. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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