Movie Review: Wrong Turn
By Kevin M. Williams, Chicago Tribune Staff Writer
There is something so lovely, so Darwinian about slasher flicks, even forgettable nonsense such as "Wrong Turn."
The TV commercials make you anticipate seeing young, cute people getting murdered in the woods of West Virginia, and a choppin' and a hackin' we go.
The problem with this film is that it hews so rigidly to genre convention that it irritates instead of entertains. All the expected elements are there. This is a plot-by-numbers effort that includes the smart guy, the plucky girl, the devil-may-care types and the lovers. Oh, and there's this trio of creepy mountain men who may or may not be cannibals. You know who will die, and who won't.
Med student Chris (Desmond Harrington) is running late for an important job interview. In an effort to get around a six-hour highway backup, he takes a back road, only to collide with an SUV occupied by a quintet of lovely youths. Turns out the SUV has been disabled by a strand of barbed wire placed across the road (cue sinister, minor-keyed music). The group heads off to search for a phone, and the party begins.
Jessie (Eliza Dushku) and Chris become leaders and, ultimately, the prey in a hunt being conducted by the killers. Not surprisingly, the two decide to fight back, and what luck, Jessie has just been dumped by her boyfriend, so those moon-eyed looks shared by her and Chris ultimately won't be in vain.
Think of "Wrong Turn" as being like the TV show "Survivor," and you'll have a great time watching characters get croaked in direct proportion to their degree of annoyance. You can even root for individual deaths, because this film so faithfully follows the arc of every other slasher film, you can predict when your wish will be granted. "I sure wish somebody would kill her," you think, and in comes the machete.
Making the hunters a bunch of hairy, rat-faced mutants is an irritating but anticipated cop-out. Of course we hate and fear them just look at them. If the killers were real people, the filmmakers would have to invent reasons for their sociopathy. No time for that.
Nor are the blood and guts particularly inventive. You see the odd body part being hacked off, and fun ways to use barbed wire, all droll and obvious.
The sole saving grace of "Wrong Turn" is its honesty. You get exactly what you expect blood, guts and people being taken to the killing floor.
But just because it's honest doesn't make it good.
Directed by Rob Schmidt; written by Alan McElroy; produced by Erik Feig, Robert Kulzer, Stan Winston, Brian Gilbert; edited by Michael Ross; photographed by John S. Bartley. A Fox Pictures release; opened last week. Running time: 1:25. MPAA rating: R (strong violence and gore, some language and drug use).
Chris Desmond Harrington
Jessie Eliza Dushku
Scott Jeremy Sisto
Carly Emmanuelle Chriqui
Evan Kevin Zegers
Francine Lindy Booth