Desmond Harrington and Eliza Dushku flee hillbilly freaks in this predictable but effective horror flick
Writer: Alan B. McElroy
Starring: Desmond Harrington, Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto
A medical student in a hurry takes a shortcut through the West Virginia backwoods and collides with a carload of bitchy twentysomethings. Forced to negotiate the woods on foot, they're soon picked off by inbred flesh-eating hillbilly freaks.
As you might already have guessed, Wrong Turn is utterly generic and predictable but that doesn't stop it being an effective and satisfyingly grisly horror movie.
Director Rob Schmidt and writer Alan B. McElroy follow a formula throughout, from the obligatory killing of a couple of incidental characters before the opening credits right through to the standard "maybe the bad guys are alive after all" twist-in-the-tale at the end.
As soon as the main characters are introduced, for instance, it's easy to guess who's going to live, who's going to die, and in roughly what order.
According to the Old Testament morality of the horror movie genre, dope-smoking, loose-moralled, Range Rover-driving city kids must pay for their shallowness in blood; Only their more serious, better looking and higher billed companions will survive.
But to call the plot of Wrong Turn unoriginal is missing the point. Pretty much all horror movies are variations on a theme and Wrong Turn deserves credit for making no attempt to hide its heritage.
This is basically a rehash of The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre but rather than get bogged down in too much plot, the filmmakers concentrate on giving the audience what they want: thrills, spills and kills.
The one area where Wrong Turn really stands out from the crowd is its special effects.
In less talented hands, the inbred bad guys could easily have been laughable but special makeup effects legend Stan Winston, who's also one of the film's producers, ensures an impressively high standard of SFX throughout.
The cast, meanwhile, is decent by horror standards. Desmond Harrington, who was in the equally grisly Ghost Ship, does the moody hero shtick well while Eliza Dushku ably handles the spunky heroine role and looks good in a tank top too - an important requirement for this kind of movie. Elsewhere, it's odd to see Jeremy Sisto, best known as Six Feet Under's deranged Billy Chenowith, playing a relatively normal character.
Schmidt's direction too is sharp enough, without being particularly distinguished while McElroy gets the characters from incident to incident without too much fuss.
Ultimately, however, whether you like or loathe Wrong Turn depends on whether or not you enjoy horror movies.
If you like your films gory, this is for you. If you prefer a little more story, look elsewhere.
PTV Rating: 3 out of 5
Czech Premiere: March 4, 2004
Czech Title: Pach krve
Czech Classification: 15
Runtime: 84 minutes
Number of Prints in Czech Cinemas: 8
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