Oh dear. The first sign of a franchise in decline is when they feel the need to go back to the very beginning and do a prequel story. And thus, in the fourth film in the Wrong Turn franchise, that is precisely what has happened. Except it’s pretty much business as usual. There’s an explanation over where these inbred hillbillies came from – a hospital! – but then we jump forward several years and we’re back in familiar territory. That is, a group of sexed up youngsters find themselves trapped in the hospital, now abandoned, during a snow storm and the hillbillies commit their own particular brand of violence. Somewhere along the way the whole concept of the “wrong turn” in the title seems to have been lost in favour of baseless wittering nonsense.
This wouldn’t be so bad in the grand scheme of things, except that Bloody Beginnings is a really bad film, and never shows an awareness of that fact. Despite my earlier praise for the Wrong Turn films, which did something slightly different each time, this is one instance where it hasn’t worked at all. Its gender politics are quite good for the “slasher” genre, what with our group of female characters generally being independent, rounded people. Unlike what we normally get in these films – baseless eye candy fit for screaming and nudity and little else.
It fails to provide genuine entertainment for many reasons. First and foremost is how slow it is to get into the violence. The audience are here for wild and wonderful character deaths. There’s only so far that a nice, snow-covered setting will get you before interest begins to wane. A lack of characters to really care about, plus a story that can be summed up as “more of the same, but in the snow.”
There are the usual twists on which the franchise has been built, and they’re quite impressive in the way they keep you guessing about who is going to survive or, as is more likely, how will meet a gruesome end. There are some fun, morally dubious twists that you won’t see coming. It’s these smaller moments that worked best for me. The practical effects are well done, which is a bonus because otherwise there would be nothing to say “watch this film.” For gore fans then this might be enough for you to sit through the more testing moments to reach the finale.
From a visual perspective there’s always been something inherently interesting about the contrast between spilt blood and the white snow it falls on. This is something that isn’t overplayed. It could have become like McG’s Terminator Salvation motif of lingering close-ups on robot eyes as they fade to black, but thankfully that isn’t the case.
But apart from that, it is almost completely rubbish. Who seeks shelter in a sanatorium, anyway? Especially if you know it has a very specific, sinister history. No, I’d battle the elements and keep going – that wouldn’t make for a very good film, mind.