In order to prepare for a Halloween movie horror special I took it upon myself to watch all the nasty Wrong Turn horror slasher flicks, but due to the late arrival of the sixth part (“thanks” to a local chain store that couldn’t handle its orders), the reviews are only up now. I could have used them for next year, but there will probably many others to review and I didn’t want to keep you waiting. So without much further ado, here you go with some extremely sick and violent stuff if you can stomach it.
(USA 2003, director: Rob Schmidt)
A group of young people are hunted by cannibalistic inbreds in the Virginian woods.
This is where the series began and spawned many sequels, and it’s actually quite surprising, because it’s not particularly new in the horror genre. It borrows heavily from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre idea of cannibalism (although more about the necessity that there’s no wildlife to eat) and relies on the age-old teenagers-are-hunted-down formula. However, in this case the group of backwoods monstrosities are a disgusting mix of chemical waste and degeneration, something the people of Virginia aren’t too happy to see.
But if one takes this backwoods slasher on its own, it’s quite well done. Characters are only remotely interesting and the situations they find themselves in are memorable in certain instances, e.g. with a great chase sequence on top of trees. There’s a nice mix of action usually involving sharp objects and suspense involving hiding and using the stealth method to evade these very strong opponents. A bit of gory details are also present, but nowhere near as prevalent in what would later be seen in the sequels.
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End
(USA 2007, director: Joe Lynch)
Taking part in a reality show, the contestants soon have to fight against the cannibal maniacs who’re not part of the show and don’t only shatter their dreams and expectations, but also their bones.
This is where the series starts to get really violent, bloody and gory. With an over the top beginning, this takes a while though, as one has to get through quite a lot of conversations with characters who might be better fleshed out than in the original, but who aren’t easy to identify with. At least the reality show idea works most of the time, revealing the superficiality and fake appearance of it all. With a drill instructor who’s wonderfully overacted by Henry Rollins, the time spent with uninteresting walks around the woods isn’t so bad, although the movie really hits its strides when the mutants show up.
It’s here that it picks up the pace with an awesome gory ending that perfectly fits the survival horror the original hinted at. Unfortunately one has to go through some torture scenes which are extremely reminiscent of the (in)famous Texas Chainsaw Massacre dinner table scene. Sitting uncomfortably through this and some very annoying sex talk of one character (which begs the question what is worse) prevents the sequel to be more enjoyable than it could be. But when the survival really starts, it’s a (gore) crowd pleaser that has some imaginative kills and doesn’t stop at surprising the audience with unexpected twists, e.g. questioning who’s the real survivor woman/man.
Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead
(USA 2009, director: Declan O’Brien)
A group of prison inmates have to leave the safety of their transfer bus and are attacked by the cannibal hillbillies.
A tried and tested formula should never change if the source material is already quite shallow. Granted, the third movie does a lot of things right, with another extremely bloody opening scene that promises more than the movie can actually deliver. The violence and gory bits are all there, and when the mutants show up, it’s back to backwoods slasher business as usual. But until then, one has to endure just endless blabbering of uninteresting and also quite annoying, unlikable characters.
The main problem is not only the absence of more mutants, as there’s only one with his degenerate son. It’s also the number of prison inmates who beat each other senseless. At times, this feels more like a prison escape cop action movie, but not a very good one, either. The lack of suspense is detrimental to the whole plot that moves at such a slow pace with unnecessary dialogues and twists that the horror and slasher elements almost become secondary. This is really a shame, because there are some pretty cool and memorable death scenes. It’s just too bad that they’re too few to save this installment from boredom and mediocrity.
Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings
(USA 2011, director: Declan O’Brien)
College students on snowmobile vacation are trapped in an apparently abandoned asylum where the cannibal family prepares dinner again.
Now how did this happen? The same director of the disappointing third movie finally did a better sequel and also one of the best in the series. At first it doesn’t seem like it. Despite a very strong, sick, disgusting, but also kind of enjoyable over the top violent beginning in which the backstory of the mutants is partly revealed, one has to go through almost half an hour of superfluous teenage talk by even worse characters than in the preceding part.
Fortunately, the creepy atmosphere of the abandoned asylum, together with a snow storm outside, makes for a completely different viewing experience and even creates some kind of tension. When the terror finally starts, the movie finds its way again, harking back to the second installment, only bettering it with one very hard-to-swallow human fondue scene. Of course people who disliked the second movie and find the whole idea of mutants eating humans too sick won’t find anything enjoyable here. But with a twisted ending and the use of some awkwardly funny moments, it’s clear that the director takes things far and still delivers the violence with a tongue-in-cheek (or eye-in-mouth) approach .
Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines
(USA 2012, director: Declan O’Brien)
Some college kids want to party at a Halloween festival in a small West Virginia town, but soon they find themselves up for grabs with the local cannibals who’re out and about to save their cousin in prison.
Again on directing duty, Declan O’Brien seems to have found a formula that almost works, but fails in certain parts. This is mainly due to the low production values and lack of a plot. Granted, the fourth movie didn’t have much of the latter, either. But at least the abandoned asylum didn’t look as cheap as a town that always appears to be the back of a movie set. Characters are of course forgettable again, although the introduction of the surrogate father figure of the mutants who’s not disfigured is a nice twist.
Unfortunately the movie relies too much on waiting for the next big kill, and it takes some time until the really original ones are put into action. After the strong beginning that is always typical for the series, there’s just too much talking, and it doesn’t help that the motivation behind the mutants’ killings completely disagrees with their concept of eating their prey. Some death scenes are memorable and have a playfulness that previous installments didn’t have. This is certainly no bad thing, considering that there’s not much else the movie has going for it. It’s okay to watch for these scenes, but there’s simply not enough terror or suspense to make it an enjoyable slasher movie.
Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort
(USA 2014, director: Valeri Milev)
Having inherited the forgotten resort Hobb Springs, Danny and his friends soon discover a dark family secret.
With a series running for so long and a formula that has never changed very much, it’s surprising to see that the sixth installment tries something new. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always succeed. While it’s recommendable to spend more time on a specific character and how he’s slowly introduced into a family of degenerates, one shouldn’t forget the fast pacing of the previous movies and their inventive kills.
It simply takes too much time until the run and fight for survival begins, and then it’s already over. There’s certainly a creepy and foreboding atmosphere here that the other titles didn’t provide. But with a group of young people who are so annoying and downright dumb, it’s difficult to feel any sympathy with the lack of suspense as another problem despite the potential creepiness of a whole mansion. Gratuitous nudity is taken to the extreme as well, although the incest theme makes sense, while some other scenes don’t. The sixth movie isn’t so bad as some people make it out to be. It’s just very different, but still provides some disgusting kills in addition to a surprisingly dark ending.
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