Monday, October 26, 2015

Wrong Turn


   This blood n' guts thriller predates The Hills Have Eyes remake by three years, but I was going through some major deja vu while watching this. It feels like a cousin to the 'Eyes remake. Well... a cousin, and a brother. Simultaneously. Y'know, because... the flavor of the week here isn't atomic radiation, it's the effects of inbreeding! Nevertheless, swap the new mexico desert for the woods of West Virginia, and swap one batch of stranded people for a different group of stranded people, add some inbred mutant cannibals and presto! Wrong Turn!

    Not that this is a bad thing necessarily, the two movies would make a great double feature, I just feel that given how similar they are, it's hard for me to talk about one without talking about the other. Apparently at one time they were even sold in a Blu Ray two-pack together. Hah. Anyways, there's enough differences between Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes that you could come away with a strong preference one way or the other. In this movie, the protagonists are kind of boring. A bunch of young adults going on a camping trip, and one other guy who just happened to bump into them in his haste to get somewhere. They all get stuck together and have to survive a trek through the woods. The movie wastes precisely no time killing people off, and what's worse is, we're hard pressed to even care.

  'Eyes had it... I don't want to say had it 'easy'? But, The Hills Have Eyes had it made because their protagonists were a family unit. There was an immediate connection there. We knew they cared about each other, loved each other, and there was a much tighter bond. Seeing family die is just always more gut wrenching. Hills' played up that scare factor around every corner, but this flick seems packaged ready-made with disposable characters. They're annoying and the plot isn't really affected too much if they get killed off. It's those characters who spontaneously volunteer to hang back, and wait for help to arrive, while the rest of the group presses forward. Yeah. It's that kind of movie pretty much.

   Anyway, the main protagonist Chris is the most cardboard main character imaginable. He's a medical student or something, and he's so flat you almost think he's being macabre, but he's not... he's just really flat. He gets a hall pass eventually because his character ends up thriving in the danger and chaos and we're sorta compelled to root for him because at least he's not stupid. We know so little about him, and yet he's the total main character. Thankfully Eliza Dushku's character gets a bit of development, perfunctory though it might have been it was still a breath of fresh air. She plays a strong lead next to Chris and steals just about every scene away from him. He seems like a really interchangeable lead where I think she owned her character quite well.

   The rest of the characters almost aren't even worth talking about... and then there's the villains. Wrong Turn has a trio of genetically messed up, inbred, mutated, cannibals as the villains. They're creepy and exceptionally effective, but having seen Hills' first, I was a bit underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, one batch of inbred mutant freaks are as terrifying as the next batch, this is no exception- but I felt like they lacked a bit of personality. In Hills' we saw personality. Each member of the Hills clan was unique and scary in his own specific way. In Wrong Turn, it's two big guys and a small fast guy. Most of the time the camera wasn't keen on showing them full on, so it ended up being hard to distinguish one from the other sometimes.

  In it's own way, that adds to the tension and makes them a much more detached threat from our protagonists- feeling almost supernatural in nature. Which is fine, but I'm partial to the approach Hills' took. Nevertheless, there are some awesome parts in this movie, some truly scary and unique sequences. Not to mention, enough blood n' guts to sate a gorehound's bloodlust until his next horror movie. One thing I noticed was that there's some really neat camera work in the movie. We often find the camera zooming through a scene at impossible angles, focusing close up on a detail or something. It's really really cool and gave the movie an extra unique flavor. Most of the movie wasn't scary, it sure did have it's moments, but most of it was just gory survival. Thus instead of just plain 'horror', I think I'll dub this and ones like this 'Splatter-horror'.

  Movies in this sub-genre aren't all that thought provoking or even all that worth watching really- but they can be fun little creature feature bloodbaths. Wrong Turn is an uncomplicated and breezy spin through the cannibal laden woods of West Virginia, featuring enough uniquely scary scenes and pleasantly serviceable filmmaking that I can recommend it easily for seasonal viewing. I'd watch it again someday, preferably in a double feature with The Hills Have Eyes and definitely with a bunch of friends. If you're not going to be too demanding from this little flick, there's a lot of gruesome fun to be had.

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