Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wrong Turn

Most of us have travelled far distances, trying to get from point A to point B in a decent amount of time.  When doing so, it’s never part of the itinerary to get stuck in traffic for hours on end.  Just a few weeks ago, I travelled to the city of Anaheim to catch a game between the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels.  It was a three and a half hour drive to the stadium and it went pretty well on my venture over there.  However, getting back home was a different story.  Being that it was Labor Day weekend, seemed like everybody in California was on the road that day, particularly on Highway 101 heading north.  Like most of us are apt to do—not to mention how our GPS devices are now programmed to give us go-around alternative routes—I exited off the highway to take some back roads and avoided the freeway.  It didn’t help, but that’s not the point.  The point is, after seeing Wrong Turn, you might want to stay on the highway or main roads from now on.

I’m always trying to get a friend of mine to watch a lot of my favorite horror movies, but he always needs quite a kick at the beginning of the film to keep him interested.  If the film doesn’t have some action or female nudity within the first five minutes of the flick, it loses him instantaneously.  When trying to initiate a film that has a bit of exposition during the first few scenes, my buddy’s eyes glaze over and he begins to stare out into space, sometimes even falling asleep.  It drives me crazy, but I understand he has the attention of a flea so I can’t fault him for that flaw.  However, when I’d presented him Wrong Turn and he witnessed the beginning tease to the story (I won’t give it away because it’s quite a scary scene), his eyes widened and he perked right up, instantly interested in the rest of the movie (he also drooled over the female leads who wore very flattering outfits in this flick).  With all that said, after he finished watching the movie, he thanked me for introducing it to him and I felt a sense of a job well done.

So, the point of that story was just to explain that even the toughest critic was able to enjoy Wrong Turn.  But before getting any further, let’s synopsize the story.

The film opens with Chris Flynn (Desmond Harrington) driving through West Virginia and on his
way to a job interview.  A chemical spill on the highway brings traffic to a dead stop and he chooses to take an abandoned back road as a shortcut.  He ends up crashing into an incapacitated car sitting in the middle of the road, debilitating his vehicle in the process.  With both cars disabled, he teams with the group of friends who were stranded in the car—Jessie (Eliza Dushku), Scott (Jeremy Sisto), Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui), Evan Kevin Zegers) and Francine (Lindy Booth)—to look for help.  Soon, they find they’re being stalked by cannibalistic mountain men and must fight to stay alive.

Let’s begin by saying that this film, by all means, is not much of an original story.  We’ve actually seen it in The Hills Have Eyes and even a little bit of it in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so I can’t commend the writer, Alan B. McElroy, for any originality in this.  The director, Rob Schmidt, however, gives us a very unsettling sense of dread in Wrong Turn that sort of rivals what we’ve felt in the movies I’d compared it to a few sentences ago.  We definitely get a more grizzled and visceral film that will scare a lot of people, making them squirm in their seats at times and having them yell at the screen at others.

Of course, this movie features a lot of horror movie clichés that we’ve seen countless times before: the characters are stuck somewhere isolated, the cell phones don’t have service, the antagonists are able to track the protagonists’ every move, and so on.  But the sense of realism is there, with no humor, and a feeling of trepidation is understood throughout.  Wrong Turn is not one of those horror slashers where you sit with a smile on your face, thinking it’s fun or rooting for the killers to catch their prey.  No.  You side with the protagonists right away as you can relate to what they’re going through, not to mention that they’re likeable characters.  The leading characters in this film are not the secondary douche bags you see in Friday the 13th or Halloween sequels that deserve what they get.  They have character development and you actually feel bad for the ones who don’t make it and fall victim to the mutated inbreeds. 

There’s not much more I can add to this, seeing that it’s a simple story of kids getting stuck in the wooded mountains of West Virginia, only to be stalked by deformed killers.  But it’s definitely a scary good time with a message to everyone out there: stay on the main roads and never take shortcut through an abandoned wooded area.

So, my final “bit” on Wrong Turn?

The best of the franchise, which I still can’t believe they’re making sequels to this.  I believe the series is now up to six movies, with the latest one to be released just before Halloween.  Well, I can’t speak for the unreleased one, but all the subsequent sequels haven’t stood up to the original one in its shock value and suspense.  Do yourself a favor and see this one if The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are your type of films…you won’t be disappointed.

That’s it for now…thanks for reading and have a Happy Halloween!

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