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“Invitation to Dance - It’s a Dance. And sometimes they turn the lights off in this ballroom. But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the Dark. Especially in the Dark. May I have the pleasure?” --- Stephen King ::::::::::: MY CRITERIA FOR DISCUSSION ENCOMPASSES THE HORROR GENRE AND BEYOND, SO I USE THE TERM "NIGHTMARE MOVIES". SPOILERS CAN OCCUR WITH OR WITHOUT WARNING. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Wrong Turn

March 23rd 2007 01:39
Wrong Turn poster art
This is one of my Hollywood horror guilty pleasures; a highly derivative, but thoroughly enjoyable beasts-in-the-woods movie. A small group of attractive young people find themselves trapped in a West Virginian forest and are slowly picked off one by one by three hideously deformed inbred mountain men.
Produced by Hollywood special effects legend Stan Winston (Dead & Buried, Aliens, Predator, Island of Dr Moreau), Wrong Turn (2003) was a personal project of his, wanting to make a back to basics (for Hollywood) horror movie with a nasty menacing tone and numerous violent shocks. Think Friday the 13th (1980) meets Deliverance (1972)
Eliza Dushku, Desmond Harrington, Emmaneulle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto
Chris (Desmond Harrington) in his gorgeous steel blue Mustang is driving long distance along the forest highway to a job interview and is stalled by a traffic pile-up, so he takes a back road and – whoopsadaisy! - ploughs into the back of a Range Rover. Jessie (Eliza Dushku) and her four friends have been heading camping but they’ve run over a booby-trap barbed wire.
A barbed wire sandwich don't taste too good
So Jessie, Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and her fiancee Scott (the always watchable Jeremy Sisto) and Chris head off up the track to find a cabin with a phone, leaving “bad girl” Francine (Lindy Booth) and her beau Evan (Kevin Zegers) behind to smoke a joint and have sex. You can pretty much guess what happens after that.

Maid Marion eat yer heart out!
Director Rob Schmidt is a competent director, and though Alan McElroy’s screenplay doesn’t really turn over any original stones, he moves the film along at a cracking pace, delivering effective “Boo!”s and several shock kills. The production values are solid and the acting is above average (okay, okay, Eliza might not be the greatest actor in the world, but damn she looks hot in moleskin jeans!)

Three Finger about to do some serious damage!
Schmidt chooses never to linger on any of the three mountain men’s features keeping them as shifting shapes with shadowy deformities, nor does the screenplay give them any dialogue (although they do get named in the credits as Three Finger, One Eye and Saw Tooth). These human animals are monstrous and frightening and remain that way through the length of the movie.


Young, hot and hunted!
One of the best sequences of the film has Chris, Jessie and Carly trapped in a ranger’s watchtower while the mountain men roam the forest below with fire torches. They’re eventually forced to escape the tower and into the trees, trying desperately to escape by maneuvering along the branches, eighty feet above the ground. It sounds far-fetched, and of course it is, but visually it works.

This extended sequence also features one of the best demises in recent horror flicks with poor Carly up a tree receiving an axe blow neatly decapitating half her head. We watch in extreme close-up the light fading from her eye as the camera pulls back and up revealing the axe embedded in the tree trunk, her body and half head falling away ricocheting off the branches. Nicely done Schmidt!
An axe sandwich sure don't taste too good!
One has to keep in mind this is horror for the masses, so it relies on a certain suspension of belief with characters doing stupid things (jumping twenty feet from a tower down into branches and not being impaled or smashing all your ribs, hmmm, I don’t think so). But, the film moves too swiftly to really dwell on these cinema sillyisms.
If you were a nasty mountain man what would you be doin'?
My only major gripe is when Jessie is captured, taken back to the cabin and gagged and tied to a bed. In grim reality (and if the movie had been directed by the late Joe D’Amato or Ruggero Deodato) these inbred maniacs would’ve stripped her of her clothes and would no doubt be sexually assaulting her (no doubt they probably would’ve had sex with poor Francine’s body earlier too!). But the producers would’ve got into trouble with the MPAA and it’s common knowledge amongst Dushku fans that she has a strict no nudity clause in her contract (she’s even quoted as saying “You have a better chance of seeing God”). Sigh.

Alas! Poor Carly we knew her well!
Wrong Turn would be great screened with Deliverance, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Wolf Creek (2005) or The Hills Have Eyes (2006). It’s much better fare than many other Hollywood horrors of recent years, such as Eli Roth’s over-rated tripe (Cabin Fever, Hostel), or all those tedious remakes (The Hills aside), even though Wrong Turn is hardly covering new territory.

Ultimately it's the tight editing, strong visuals, well-executed gore (most of which is CGIed, but hey …), plus a spunky bunch of actors, three vicious killers, and a concise running time (just over 80 minutes) that makes Wrong Turn a sickly sweet scary little outdoors package. Mmmm, the pine smells good in these ‘ere woods.

Here's the original teaser trailer:

* images on this page are courtesy of and


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11 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Mark Schultz

March 23rd 2007 04:35
Wrong turn, pizza, beers and joints = perfect night in.

Comment by Bryn

March 23rd 2007 05:10
Couldn't have summed it up better myself Mark! Cheers!! (clink, munch, guzzle ... whewwwt ... ahhhhhhh!)

Comment by Damo

March 23rd 2007 05:25
sounds delightful.
Inbreds are always good fun

Comment by JohnDoe

March 24th 2007 00:03
Glad you clarified this as a guilty pleasure Bryn,
This was such horror lite as you said, no real danger or suspense to be found....Eliza and her Duschcoo's were all that kept me watching and even that novelty wore thin....I hate horror movies that don't live up to their promise and this was one that pussied out at every turn......just watch Deliverance again....

Comment by Bryn

March 24th 2007 03:01
I had a feeling this one would grate on you JD ... yeah, I really enjoyed it ... This was pure popcorn trash for me, slick and vacant, but the veneer worked fine for me, I disagree that it pussied out at every turn and that it was "horror lite" ... Sure, it's no Deliverance, but I'd rather watch something like this than a Scream (too injokey, self-conscious and smug) or a Hostel (tries way too hard, no where near as engaging or even as convincing as Wrong Turn, even though Wrong Turn was far-fetched and formulaic) ...
I actually think this might be the first real difference of opinion you and I have come up against .... but then at the end of the night its diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks, right?

Comment by JohnDoe

March 25th 2007 02:53
Yep, we all have our guilty pleasures. two recent ones for me were Devils Rejects (Grindhouse delight) and The Last Horror Movie (Why didnt I think of that) which I know you werent a fan of.

Im with you on the dullness of Hostel (Where was the gore?) and Scream (Where was the horror) though I did get a good laugh out of Cabin Fever (Shave those legs baby) and still enjoy it as the acursed guilty pleasure it is.

Comment by Bryn

March 25th 2007 07:39
I reckon Rob Zombie's got a pretty darn good horror movie in him, but we've yet to see it ... Not entirely sure he's gonna pull off the re-envisioning of Halloween ...
Glad you agree on those smug little bastards (Hostel and Scream) ....

Comment by Anonymous

March 26th 2007 05:51
Eliza is hot, but I'm in love with Jeremy. But still..


Comment by Cibbuano

March 26th 2007 23:06
I think the filmmaker made this film just to cast those girls.

The plot sounds so much like The Hills Have Eyes remake...

Comment by Bryn

March 27th 2007 06:07
Eliza is too hot .... love that shorter leg, longer torso thang .... But yeah, Jeremy rocks big time!

Comment by JohnDoe

March 27th 2007 07:11
Count me in as a Jeremy Sisto fan, check out the HBO Iraq war series Over There to see him lodge another mighty performance...though May is still my favourite.

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