Wrong Turn

In late 1996, an episode of The X-Files entitled "Home" sufficiently disgusted viewers to prompt FOX never to air it again. The episode dealt with a family so inbred across generations that they were horribly disfigured, and barely 'human.' Now, seven years later comes Wrong Turn, a movie that basically goes along the same lines, except it is a far inferior product. It is also a rehash of House of 1,000 Corpses, except this time the people in the house don't look like dirty carnies but horrible mutants. Again there are a group of teens, lost in the woods, this time in West Virginia. Chris (Desmond Harrington, Ghost Ship, We Were Soldiers) needs to get across state to an interview, and he is running late. He takes a short cut and barrels into a car, effectively trashing both vehicles.

The other car contains (among others) Jessie (Eliza Dushku, City by the Sea, The New Guy), Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui, On the Line, Snow Day), and her boyfriend Scott (Jeremy Sisto, Angel Eyes, Now You Know). It was stranded because somebody left a trail of barbed wire in the middle of the road. The four set off into the woods to look for anybody who can help them. There is nothing really original in Alan B. McElroy's (The Courier, Ballistic) script, which uses all the same horror conventions that everybody else uses. The four eventually come across a house that they enter, and in it they find all sorts of body parts and other disgusting things. Soon, they are running from three inbred mountain men, who shuffle slowly yet still seem right on the heels of four young people running quickly.

No matter where these people go, the mountain men are close behind, seemingly trailing them day and night. Their intentions are never too clear. Either they want to eat them, or rip their bodies apart and put the various pieces in jars. Stan Winston (Darkness Falls, Jurassic Park III) designed the mountain men, which is pretty disappointing given what he can do. They are not menacing, and instead look like somebody put on masks that were accidentally melted. There are only one or two moments designed to make the audience jump that actually work, and the smart-alec comments present in nearly every genre film today are at a minimum, usually relegated to Sisto. Instead, what the audience gets courtesy of director Rob Schmidt (Crime and Punishment in Suburbia) is Dushku and Chriqui in tight shirts running around.

He even has the gall to avoid the gratuitous nudity usually present. What's left? Not much. The gore is not that gory, and the audience never cares for the safety of the four people. In order for a horror film to work, part of what Schmidt and McElroy need to do is make the viewer care about the characters. The film hits the ground running, so there is no emotional basis to ground anybody in. Character development to McElroy is making up a short bio and revealing it bit by bit. It tells some superficial information about each character, but nobody learns anything of substance about them. The West Virginia setting is a little different, and a lot of the action surprisingly takes place during the day, but that doesn't excuse the rest of the movie.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated R for strong violence and gore, some language and drug use.

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