a critiQal film review Wrong Turn (2003)

Plot: Chris (Harrington), on a back road in West Virginia, slams into a car that has stopped...thanks to barbed wire strung across the road. Chris joins the car's group, and some of them, including Jessie (Dushku), set out to find a phone. On their way, they stumble upon a house in the middle of the woods...unfortunately, it's the home of the misshapen "Mountain Men", who have become something of a horror legend in these parts.

615 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 4s)
  • ...despite a memorable near-beheading, this horror flick doesn't really stand out from the crowd.

Well, I may be a little late for Halloween but I decided to check out new horror movie Wrong Turn. It stars Eliza Dushku (of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TV) and Bring It On (2000) fame), and Desmond Harrington (who you might remember from Ghost Ship (2002)).

I hadn’t heard much about it really, but I did vaguely remember seeing a trailer for it that looked decent, so I figured I’d give it a shot. After all, since I’ve already seen one of the worst horror movies ever made, House of 1000 Corpses (2003), how bad could this possibly be? Even if it sucks, it’s gotta be better than that, right?

Eliza Dushku surprised most of us “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TV) fans by turning in a decent performance in the comedy Bring It On (2000) a few years ago. As funny as it was to see Faith as a cheerleader, however, it’s nice to see Dushku returning to her old Faith style in Wrong Turn.

She seems a little out of touch with her old Faith character, and doesn’t bring as much excitement to this role as she did every week on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TV). Imagine, if you will, good ol’ Faith with even less heart and more of a 2-dimensional, cardboard-ish acting range, and you’ve pretty much defined Eliza Dushku’s role in this film.

Desmond Harrington, on the other hand, seems to stretch out his Ghost Ship (2002) character (who we thought he was in the beginning of that film anyway), and it gives him a little more appeal for this film. While it’s true the love connection between Dushku and Harrington misfires due to both parts, Desmond at least seems to put forth an effort to make sparks fly.

The plot is easily recognizable, especially if you’re a big fan of a classic horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or any other horror film of that time, yet it adds more of an element of “The X-Files” (TV) ‘Home’ episode then what we’ve seen in those films. Yes, it’s rather straight forward and see-through, but it’s the type of plot that relies on the characters, especially the villains and the special effects to keep the audience involved. The characters, as mentioned above, don’t really keep up their end of the bargain, but Stan Winston’s visual effects team defintely tries to grab the viewers attention.

The special effects, as usual for a horror film, are in great supply. The death scenes all show at least some originality and are pretty believable. While the death scenes, for the most part, are not on the same level as the spectacular death sequences of Final Destination (2000) (against which all horror movies should now be judged), a memorable half-beheading does stick out as quite impressive, and shows real originality and thought. The villians themselves all look disturbing enough, but do tend to lose out, scare value wise, to “The X-Files” (TV) ‘Home’ family.

The biggest thing Wrong Turn is lacking seems to be a truly dedicated director’s vision. While it’s true that the major parts of the film have a few flaws, even if they didn’t, the movie seems to be lacking the one true quality that made films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre classics: the director doesn’t know how to scare you.

He can disgust you easily enough, but he doesn’t seem to have the ability to build the tension of the film to a fever pitch. If he was able to do this, even the slightest glimpse of something wrong would cause the audience to act much more strongly then his gory details do now.

It’s not a bad attempt though, and here’s hoping that director Schmidt can learn from his mistakes, and fine tune his skills to become a true master of horror.

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