Wrong Turn Review
By Shawn McKenzie 05/30/2003
I really thought that in a post-Scream world we would be rid of formulaic horror movies. I consider Scream to be a landmark in horror, because it finally pointed out the things that had became redundant in horror, like taking a back road in West Virginia, or having sex on that back road. We all know by now that those things invite psycho killers. The movie Wrong Turn forgets the lessons that we learned from Scream and gives us an old-fashioned, clichéd horror flick.
Rich (Joel Harris) and Halley (Yvonne Gaudry) are a couple of mountain climbers having fun scaling up a mountainside when they are mysteriously killed. Cut to Chris (Desmond Harrington), a doctor driving through rural West Virginia on his way to Raleigh for a job interview. He is going smoothly along the highway until he reaches a traffic jam that won’t be cleared for hours. He has to be in Raleigh by 7 P.M., so he doubles back and takes a dirt road that looks like it might make its way around the gridlock. He wants to let his potential new employers know that he is going to be late, but his cell phone won’t work. He stops at a rundown gas station to call them on the pay phone, but the phone doesn’t work and the creepy one-toothed attendant (Wayne Robson) isn’t much help. Chris sees a map on the side of the gas station notices a dotted line that leads back to the highway. The road is called Bear Mountain Road, but he’s not sure if the road is even fully there. He takes it anyway, and along the way, he is distracted by a deer and ends up crashing into a vehicle that was stopped in the middle of the road. The owners of the vehicle, Jessie (Eliza Dushku), her friend Scott (Jeremy Sisto) and his fiancée Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui), and their friends Evan (Kevin Zegers) and his girlfriend Francine (Lindy Booth), weren’t hurt, since they weren’t in the car. Chris wonders why they were parked in the middle of the road, and they show him the string of barbwire that blew out their tires. Since both cars were totaled, they decide to trek through the woods to get some help (I guess trying to go back to the gas station was too far, and staying on the road would have made too much sense.) Evan and Francine offer to stay and watch the cars so they can smoke a joint and fool around. Chris, Jessie, Scott, and Carly make their way through the woods where they find a rundown, backwoods mountain house. Carly really needed to go to the bathroom, and they think they might possibly be able to find a phone, so they go inside. They don’t find anyone home, but they do find what looks like human organs inside many jars. Unfortunately, they are a little slow on the uptake in realizing that this is a house of psychos, and those very psychos pull up in their truck. The resident disfigured and seemingly inbred owners, Three Finger (Julian Richings), Saw-Tooth (Garry Robbins), and One-Eye (Ted Clark), return with the now very dead Francine. They have to hide from the freak trio until they go to sleep (which is apparently during the day.) Once they get out, they spend the rest of the day, night, and following day trying to get away from the psycho brothers, who want to kill them for sport and dinner meat.
This movie feels like a paint-by-numbers horror flick. There were points where I could practically hear the screening audience go “Uh huh…he’s gonna get killed.” I mean, c’mon…taking a back road in West Virginia? Chris reaching for a CD on the car floor while he was driving? Evan and Francine having sex in the woods? It’s like the seven years since Scream never existed.
Something specific about the movie drove me bonkers. When an actor or actress is so well defined by a role that portrays them as tough, it is troubling to see them play a helpless victim. As you may or may not know, Dushku’s signature role was as Faith on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” On that show, she played a bad girl slayer who gave Buffy a run for her money. She was vital in helping the Scooby Gang defeat the First and destroy the Hellmouth for the last time. In this movie, she acts like a powerless wimp, and I kept thinking as I was watching her cower, “Faith wouldn’t put up with this!” I know that isn’t a fair thing to think, since they are two different characters, but I think it is a bad career move to go from a strong character to a weak character. She has had much better non-Faith roles in other movies, like her performances in Bring It On and City by the Sea, so there is no excuse to make a movie like this. It is the same thing I thought when I saw Sarah Michelle Gellar, a.k.a. Buffy Summers, act like a helpless victim to the Gorton Fisherman in I Know What You Did Last Summer.
My colleague Reggie McDaniel thinks Wrong Turn is one of those horror movies that you need to bring a friend to so you can both have fun yelling at the clichés on the screen. If that’s your cup of tea, than this movie would suit you perfectly. Personally, I’d like a little more creativity in the story. I brought my brother to this film, and he was satisfied with the special effects alone. If you were like me though, it would be a wrong turn to find yourself in a theater showing this movie.
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