Director: Rob Schmidt
Cast: Eliza Dushku, Desmond Harrington, Jeremy Sisto, Emmaunelle Chriqui
Plot: When a group of people get stranded on a stretch of road deep in the woods, they soon become hunted by a family of cannibals…
I want to begin my article by thanking thehorroronline for giving me my first request for today’s article. She has requested that I review the film ‘The Wrong Turn’. Please check out his blog, as it offers some interesting insights into the dark genre of horror. I insist upon this, because, in all honesty, I did not like this movie and I am not going to give it a glowing review. It just was not for me and I feel really bad for the following review. However, I am sticking to honesty and if it makes any fans feel better, a few of my friends have strongly defended this film.
The Wrong Turn is a movie I have been meaning to watch for a while now. It is the kind of early horror action that has spawned several sequels (Wrong Turn 5 was released in 2012), and has a strong cult following. The idea behind it is not that bad. Deep in the forests, three disfigured cannibals set traps and kill anyone that comes into their paths. Although it requires overlooking several details (near the end of the movie, the cannibals kill a cop and steal his police car, which meant that even if their plan worked, they would have been rounded up not long after anyway), it is a strong idea for a horror franchise. I can kind of see where the sequels are coming from. I imagine that if the mythology of the cannibals is expanded slightly and they become a bigger star than the dwindling quality of actors who feature in each instalment, there is an understandable franchise here.
Sadly, Rob Schmidt seems to make every mistake in the book, when directing this horror. For one, the killers are revealed far too early. I understand that the real charm of this movie is the cat and mouse game through the woods when the chase begins, yet Schmidt sacrifices tension to jump straight to this part of his film. Also, seeing as the scene was mostly set in the daytime, it was hard to be too afraid of the story. Setting the action a few hours later, when the darkness sets in would have been a wiser move, especially as the highlight of this film, was when the darkness kicked in, with the treetop battle scene.
There was also a strong lack of scares in the film. Some scenes were only frightening, because one of the characters told us it was: ‘I have a bad feeling about this’, or ‘Something’s not right’. Again, daytime was an issue, but it was hard to get an early sense of fear, when the characters are doing little more than walking through the woods in the early hours of the afternoon. The film also leans more towards gore horror than psychological horror which badly affects the story. Jumps are fleeting and brief. Even the tension in the cannibals’ house was more exciting than chilling.
The worst part of the film however was the script. It falls back on clichés and lost me as soon as the main character, referring to the couple of the group, said ‘They found happiness. That’s hard to find.’ Schmidt seems to believe that the cannibal scares and B-Movie action is enough to carry this film, however, we struggle to get much empathy for the characters. There is a slow half an hour build, before we get to the cannibals (which is normal for a horror), but rather than getting the audience familiar with the characters, Schmidt kind of lazily drifts by, hoping the audience will stay with him, until the fighting begins. It means that there is twenty minutes of the characters wandering down a forest road, not saying much, and wasting a good chance of making something of this film.
It is a shame, because the two leads are actually quite good. Eliza Dushku (most commonly known from Joss Whedon’s ‘Buffy’ and ‘Dollhouse’), does what she can with the lacklustre script. She tries to add emotional depth or look scared, without turning into Emmanuelle Chirqui’s annoying girly-girl. Sadly, her character only gets a proper monologue about how she was dumped a week before the movie in the final act of the film. At this point, when her friends are dead and the cannibals are close to killing them, we find it hard to believe she still gives a damn about an ex-boyfriend.
The other lead is Desmond Harrington, known for playing Quinn in Dexter. He was a disappointment here. I know that the script should shoulder most of the blame here, but it seems as though Harrington doesn’t even bother to meet the writers halfway. He goes for the strong, silent type, under-acting, but it comes across as bored and it is difficult to emphasise with the guy. It is a shame, because Harrington is capable of much more. Also, as a side-note, Jeremy Sisto also gives a good performance as the funny, soon-to-be married guy. He is the easiest character to connect with and it is a shame that the writers didn’t seem interested enough to keep him around.
Final Verdict: A good idea squandered on a poor script, lazy acting and a noticeable absence of scares.
Again, I am really sorry to thehorroronline. This movie just isn’t my thing. However, any more requests from any of the readers would be appreciated. Is there any film you want to see reviewed? Let me know.
Lots of love,
Luke ‘It’s Not Fair and It’s Really Not OK’ Abbott