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Wrong Turn (2003)

It's the Last One You'll Ever Make

Wrong Turn on DVD
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Growing up, my brother and I took long family road trips to see my grandmother at least once or twice a year. In doing that, we had to cut through West Virginia and travel through those windy mountain roads. Now that I've seen Wrong Turn, I think that future trips through West Virginia will be quick and it's a sure bet that we won't take any shortcuts.

Jessie (Eliza Dushku) had a bad week and was dumped by her boyfriend (he's obviously not right in the head). So to make her forget about things and lift her spirits, her four friends have blown off a week of work to take her camping in the great outdoors of rural West Virginia. It doesn't take long before the group of would-be campers runs into Chris (Desmond Harrington), or rather, he runs into them. Both parties have made a terrible wrong turn and it doesn't take long before they'd all be wishing they had just stayed home. Be witness to the fun as they battle for their lives against inbred "mountain men" that were supposed to be just a legend.

There's no better remedy for a broken heart than to spend a week camping with two happy couples and being a fifth wheel. That, my friend, is sarcasm. But Jessie's not worried about being reminded of what she had, she's going to be makin' love to nature for a week. Man, what I would give to be nature for that week. Did I just say that out loud? Anyways, I digress. I really wanted to see this movie in the theaters, but I never got around to it and boy did I miss out. Good horror is better on the big screen, and this one fits that bill. It's full of some genuine scares and managed to get my adrenaline pumping even on the small screen. I can only imagine what it was like in the theaters.

Wrong Turn is throwback horror. Director Rob Schmidt aimed for the old school horror of the 70s and succeeds in bringing back some of that The Hills Have Eyes raw type of horror magic. I hadn't heard of Schmidt before this film, but he did a bang-up job directing. He knows how to build tension and then give the audience a release without resorting to goofy one-liners or some awkwardly humorous interlude. While I enjoy humor, I think that horror's been trying to be a little too funny recently. It's great to see a well-done "serious" effort. It also helps that Schmidt doesn't try to be too clever or too fancy. It’s a rather simple concept but the execution was so good, it works.

It helps the director when you have good acting. This may be one of the few films with a "young cast" ensemble where I liked every character and each elicited at least a shred of sympathy. I wanted everyone to live. I was even hoping that Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui), the "annoying girl" (also known as "the dead weight"), would survive. Kudos should go out to the casting job. There's good onscreen chemistry among the couples and the performances were all believable. Their fear seemed very real and that's passed on to the audience. None of the ladies lose their clothes however, which for many was a real bummer. I say, if you're expecting tits and ass in every horror movie, then you're dooming the genre to forever keep its "bastard child" of cinema status. Skin will always have its place in horror, but once in awhile just give it a rest and find somewhere else to get your jollies.

While I'm slingin' the praise, don't let me forget about the cinematography. The mountain landscape played a big part in the film and there's a ton of nice shots of all the lonely surroundings. You can tell that it's a long way to civilization, as it really gives off the "middle of nowhere" feeling that the characters must have been feeling. It's all very impressive, especially if you consider that it was shot not in the Appalachian Mountains, but in a park in Toronto.

Stan Winston's inbred freaks are also impressive, though I'd expect nothing less from the guy. He's built quite a reputation for amazing creatures and FX, and the bar is already at such a high level for Stan and his studio. These hillbilly cannibals are just another nice addition to his huge body of awesome work. Wrong Turn stretches the boundaries of its R rating, which appears to be a growing trend. The hard R rating is back and I, for one, am not complaining. The gore is appropriate and not overdone and every death scene is graphic, disturbing, and sometimes shocking. In other words, I loved them all!

Wrong Turn's a movie that I think will have a long lifespan and one that people will look back on fondly in the coming years. It was no blockbuster at the theaters and many overlooked it, but I believe that it will gain new life on DVD and create a bunch of new "inbred cannibal" fans.


The disc itself is two-sided, ugh. I hate two-sided discs, but at least the DVD's not in on of those dreaded snap cases, so I'll live. It's got both the full screen (1.33:1) and widescreen 2.35:1 Widescreen (Anamorphic) editions of the film and splits the special features between the two sides. As for the audio, you get Dolby Digital 5.1 (English) sound.

First up on the special features is a commentary with the director, Rob Schmidt, and the leads, Eliza Dushku and Desmond Harrington. Overall, a solid commentary. They all seemed to have a lot of fun making the movie and they gave a lot of good behind-the-scenes happenings. There were a few times when I felt there was a little too much dead space, like they would get enthralled with the movie and have to pull themselves away and talk some more. Nothing too groundbreaking, but if you liked the movie, then you should dig the commentary.

There are just a couple of deleted scenes, none of them very especially noteworthy. There's an extended waterfall scene that provides a little more story leading up to Eliza's character going camping. Also, there's a little more romance between Eliza and Desmond. They included the dailies of Francine's death scene. It's a good reminder of how much work is actually involved in doing even a short scene like that.

The longest and best of four featurettes on the disc is "Fresh Meat: The Wounds of Wrong Turn". Here they show us how the special effects were created and make sure to notate each character's demise. I always love to see how special effects are done, and it always amazes me how simple some of the tricks are that end up making the gruesome and realistic imagery you see on screen. Then there's "The Making of Wrong Turn". You'd think this was the most detailed of the group, but it's not. It's pretty short and is made up mostly of clips from the film with blurbs from Stan Winston and the cast talking a about the film. There's nothing here that you didn't know from watching the movie or the other featurettes. Then there's another short featurette called "Eliza Dushku: Babe in the Woods." It's cool, but only because it's about the yummy Eliza Dushku. Otherwise, it's short and provides little insight. Finally, there's the "Stan Winston Featurette". It's the second best of the four, but still way too short. It delves deeper into Stan Winston's legendary career and his work on some of the coolest movies ever made. Rock on, Stan! You da man!

Rounding out the special features is the trailer and the concept posters. The posters are cool because you get to see what could have been...which would have been cooler. For me, two of the three original designs were much better than the one they finally used. Though, everything has to go through the MPAA and some things don't ever see the light of day.


(Out of 5)

(Out of 5)
May 30 2003
October 14 2003
October 14 2003

One of the more underrated horror films of 2003. Easily worth adding to your collection!
1. Always keep an up-to-date map handy when traveling.
2. Don't trespass into the homes of rural West Virginians.
3. When quietly trying to hide from redneck inbreds, be sure to turn off the radio.
-"Maybe we shouldn't have left Francine and Evan."
-"Don't worry, they're fine."
-"Whoa, wait guys. This road isn't on here."
-"That's because we don't have the redneck world atlas."
-"We are never going into the woods again!"

Rob Schmidt (Crime & Punishment in Suburbia)
Alan B. McElroy (Spawn, Halloween 4)
Stan Winston (She Creature)
Robert Kulzer (Resident Evil)
Erik Feig
Brian J. Gilbert
Desmond Harrington Chris Flynn
Eliza Dushku Jessie Burlingame
Emmanuelle Chriqui Carly
Jeremy Sisto Scott
Lindy Booth Francine
Kevin Zegers Evan
Julian Richings Three Finger
Garry Robbins Saw-Tooth
Ted Clark One-Eye
Yvonne Gaudry Halley
David Huband Rich
Joel Harris Trooper
Wayne Robson Old Man
James Downing Trucker
Summit Entertainment, Constantin Film, Stan Winston Productions, New Regency Productions
20th Century Fox
United States
84 mins R

Kevin Zegers & Lindy Booth are both slated to star in the upcoming remake of Dawn of the Dead.
Production began on August 6th, 2002 in Toronto. It was originally scheduled to start in late 2001, and then in February and May of 2002. on a budget of $10 million. Shooting wrapped in October of 2002.
The budget for the film was between $10-12 million.
The MPAA turned down all three trailers that 20th Century Fox submitted for Wrong Turn. They were all deemd "too intense." An unrated trailer was put on the internet to substitute.
Official Trailer (Unrated Internet Exclusive)
Eliza Dushku Interviews - FilmForce at &
Desmond Harrington talks 'Wrong Turn' - Fangoria
'Wrong Turn' Original Script Review - Creature Corner

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