One Wrong Turn Deserves Another, and Another

This schlock horror franchise is now up to #6, and I have no idea how they managed that. I caught the first one at the cinema when it came out, and this weekend I watched it again along with the next two in the series, which somebody lent me on DVD.

Wrong Turn (2003)

Late for an appointment, Chris Flynn decides to cut through some woods and ends up running into the back of a vehicle crewed by five young people. They’re laid up because somebody left barbed wire across the road. While a couple stay with the vehicles, everybody else goes off to find a phone further down the road. And, of course, they end up hunted by a family of mutant cannibal hillbillies – think Deliverance crossed with The Hills Have Eyes. Naturally those who indulge in sexual activity are picked off first (it’s that kind of a horror film), and everyone else is picked off afterwards, except for the final girl and her mate who manage to survive and ride off into the sunset covered in blood, their own and that of other people. I sound dismissive, but it wasn’t bad, and at only eighty minutes doesn’t outstay its welcome. The hillbillies are an agreeably nasty bunch, and there is plenty of tension as they chase their prey through the forest. It’s a fair enough way to pass an hour or so on a Saturday night.

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

Going into the woods this time are a bunch of celebs taking part in a reality TV show in which they all pretend to be apocalypse survivors. The first film starred Eliza Dushku and Desmond Farrington (Faith from Buffy and Detective Quinn from Dexter), but this time out the cast members are even less well known than the D-Listers they play. We get some gratuitous nudity (again, punished harshly) and even nastier ways of dying, with arrows lodging in eyeballs and people chopped in half, plus cannibal shenanigans, and a dinner table scene that’s obviously a tribute (tribute sounds so much better than ‘a copy’) to TCM. The characters are a bit more fleshed out than in the previous film, with my favourite a former drill sergeant who appears to be in his element fighting the hillbillies, and to their credit the makers of the film show the hillbillies as a family unit with their own sense of loyalty and values, which was more interesting than having them simply as monsters. Not sure if I liked it more than the first film – some of the fight/flight stuff was a bit drawn out for effect – but it was worth watching the once and, if I’m honest, the thought of I’m a Celebrity taking a wrong turn for the worse appeals to me, particularly  if the cannibals have Ant and Dec for entrée.

Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009)

Driven off the road and into the woods this time around is a prison bus transporting vicious killers from one gaol to another. But first up the cannibals set the table by slaughtering three of four young people out white water rafting. The fourth is allowed to escape, so that she can hook up with the prisoners when they arrive and provide a love/lust interest for the viewer – will she be raped by the cons, eaten by the cannibals, or saved by the hero, but of course Alex is final girl material and so none of that happens. We buckle in for a forest rumble, in which convicts vs. cannibals, and the winner gets to walk off with umpteen sacks of money in another plot twist. Despite these earnest attempts to find a new angle, it all does seem like diminishing returns, with yet another fight to survive packed with nasty death and nastier torture. One thing that annoyed me with all these films, but with the last particularly, is that nobody seems to want to finish off a bad guy, instead allowing them to get back up and begin the chase all over again, which just doesn’t seem right to me. Even the cannibals play with their food, allowing the heroes to live to fight another day. Of course if everybody got killed at the first opportunity, I guess this would be a very short film. All things considered, the film was okay if unconvincing, but I’m glad my friend didn’t lend me the next three in the series as I suspect it’s all downhill from now on.

The same friend lent me the Hostel films and I’m really not sure if I want to see those at all. Thoughts anyone? Will a sensitive soul such as myself be nauseated by the excesses of Eli Roth and his imitators?


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