Wrong Turn (2003) review

Wrong Turn (2003) review

Cannibal hillbillies chase after good looking teens in the woods. And that's it.

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They soon realised that their tree hideout wasn't quite big enough for the two of them.
They soon realised that their tree hideout wasn’t quite big enough for the two of them.

Going into Wrong Turn, you’ll probably know in advance how things will pan out given its “cabin in the woods” starting point. So what do we have here? Well, the group in question don’t actually make it to their cabin but, as expected, it sees a group of good looking youngsters – including Eliza Dushku, Lindy Booth, Jeremy Sisto and Kevin Segers – going face to face with a bunch of disfigured, inbred mountain folk who have a taste for human flesh. In other words, the same as any holiday to the West Country in the UK.

Of course, the young group do themselves no favours by being utterly stupid. First and foremost is leaving their cars in the middle of the road without thinking about moving them to one side – more accidents will surely follow? Their decisions from that point onwards continue to be logically unsound, and it’s no wonder that a lot of grisly deaths follow. It stands to reason that the script follows most of the usual tropes of the genre – if you have sex you die, the person or people you expect to survive probably won’t, and despite being inbred hillbillies with debatable intelligence they are frequently able to outwit their prey. Call it hunter’s instinct, I guess.

The girl on the right noted that she was underdressed for the carnage that was to follow.
The girl on the right noted that she was underdressed for the carnage that was to follow.

Despite these reservations it’s not all bad. The scares are well structured and the direction from Rob Schmidt is generally effective at building tension from quite a derivative idea. This does mostly amount to closeups on people’s faces to make the horror all the more intimate and personal, but it works so that’s all that matters. It helps that the film doesn’t stick around any longer than is absolutely necessary by running for a lean 85 minutes, and the script doesn’t hang about in bumping off the characters. This does mean however that there is very little in the way of characterisation for the (potential) victims. A possible side effect of this is you might only root for their survival because they’re better looking than the cannibals.

Without wishing to labour the pun, the reason for the cannibal’s existence is also not fleshed out to a decent extent. There is a very minor effort to provide some history to their existence in the intro credits but otherwise it’s something that is almost entirely ignored. Much like the role of the authorities in this matter – if that many people had gone missing in the area (and the local sheriff’s office has a high turnover of work-related deaths) then it stands to reason that somebody would have investigated and found them by now. Either that or the cannibals really are criminal masterminds, but the evidence shown in the film would indicate otherwise.

At least there’s some value in the production, doing enough unique things to separate it from the pack. The only curiosity is how this franchise has stretched to 6 films to date. While the idea of just adding more cannibals to the extended family is a simplistic way of doing it, this appears to be the approach that has been taken. Time will tell if this was a good or bad idea.

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Wrong Turn (2003)
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