Film Reviews

WRONG TURN

By • May 30th, 2003 •

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20th Century Fox / A Summit Entertainment and Constantin Film presentation / A Constantin Film / Summit Entertainment / McOne / Stan Winston production in association with Newmarket Capital Group
MPAA rating: R / Running time — 93 minutes

Screaming fun.

If SARS comes to the U.S. will every man, woman, and child be covering up their faces with a swatch of material? Is the SARS face mask the harbinger of the Western world’s version of the micro-burqa?

Years ago I spent the night in rural West Virginia. I hoped to stumble upon a snake-handling church. WRONG TURN takes place in the woods of West Virginia – and it’s not the kind of free promotion a State hopes for.

The credits overlay the backstory. Newspaper stories flash by. Certain words describe all we need to know: Campers vanish and degenerate DNA breeds deformed monsters. There are stories featuring the words “inbreeding” and “cannibalism.” Enough read. Medical student Chris (Desmond Harrington) is impatiently trapped in a highway traffic jam so he takes a short cut through an isolated back road. Chris is very serious, well built, and not easily given to hysteria. So, even though we know this movie will be about a bunch of careless young people being hunted by deformed monsters who only grunt, we will not be shouting at their stupidity. Or will we?

Chris slams his car into a camper stranded in the woods. The five young naïve campers are stupid sacrificial lambs Francine (Lindy Booth) and Evan (Kevin Zegers), newly engaged Scott (Jeremy Sisto) and numbskull Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Jesse (Eliza Dushku). These two couples have enticed their recently dumped friend Jesse to tag along as the fifth wheel on a camping trip. Jesse is tense and grave looking, so between Jesse and Chris perhaps something inventive and clever will happen when they meet up with the DNA-lacking freaks.

First mistake: Scott, Carly, Chris, and Jesse decide to walk a few miles looking for a phone while Francine and Evan stay with the car, have sex, and are quickly hacked up and dragged off like slain deer. Carly should be tied to a tree with a sign saying “Take Me.” When these four pass the horror house, they quickly go in and look around. Carly has to go to the bathroom. They nose around way too long and, when the deformed cannibals return, they hide. They see Francine flayed out on the kitchen table. She’s dinner. On their way out they make noise and don’t bother picking up any of the hack saws and medieval weaponry lying around. Lost in the woods and facing a cold night, none of them bother to pick up clothes they find lying around the monster’s cache of backyard victim booty.

Oh dear. And Carly keeps crying. They wake the monsters who then start running after them straight into the woods. It would be terrific if someday the story went this way: Degenerate monsters make the mistake of trying to kill a survivalist who knows how to kill with wet twigs and live on dirt. I’d certainly like to know how a fugitive lives five years in a cave in the woods and is able to maintain a neat haircut, a well-groomed moustache, clean clothes, and a neck I usually see on bodybuilders at the athletic club.

Sadly, I did not learn any camping skills or how to trap and kill a monster expert with a bow and arrow from Alan McElroy’s screenplay. Maybe he hates the outdoors as much as I do. But the director, Rob Schmidt, took the material and jumped right in. He crafted a frightening, hands up to face, horror story. I actually wanted Chris and Jesse to get away while gladly having handed over Carly for a running head start.

WRONG TURN re-affirms my belief that one should not to go anywhere without a gun, knife, compass, walkie-talkies and sunblock.


Cast:
Chris Finn: Desmond Harrington
Jessie Burlingame: Eliza Dushku
Carly: Emmanuelle Chriqui
Scott: Jeremy Sisto
Evan: Kevin Zegers
Francine: Lindy Booth

Credits:
Director: Rob Schmidt
Screenwriter: Alan McElroy
Producers: Erik Feig, Robert Kulzer, Stan Winston, Brian Gilbert
Executive producers: Mitch Horwits, Patrick Wachsberger, Don Carmody, Aaron Ryder
Director of photography: John S Bartley
Production designer: Alicia Keywan
Editor: Michael Ross

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