Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (US - BD RA)
Gabe thinks it's about time someone fed this franchise to the inbred cannibals...
The first Wrong Turn, directed by Rob Schmidt and co-produced by Stan Winston, was a slick, reasonably effective horror film, and one of the better Texas Chainsaw Massacre riffs of the early 2000s. The first sequel, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, directed by Joe Lynch, was a surprisingly entertaining gore-fest, and exactly what the lower tier, box office disappointment tuned straight to video franchise needed. Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead, directed by Declan O'Brien, featured plenty of high-gore hijinks, but the tepid prison escape plot floundered, and the violence wasn’t particularly fun or threatening. This third film was ultimately such a chore, and such a drop in quality from the other two films I assumed there wasn’t anything left in the franchise. Still, for whatever reason, I really wanted to like Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings. The film works occasionally, in that it fulfills most of the basic inbred slasher movie requirements, and though it never rises above the dimmest expectations, it’s a reasonably amusing diversion for at least the 15 minutes of screen time. From there, though, things go a bit south.
The story embraces the utter emptiness of similar genre films. Following a pre-credit back-story, the story boils down to nine college students taking a literal wrong turn during a snow-mobile trip, winding up at a derelict and abandoned sanatorium, and fending off three inbred killer cannibals (apparently the same three inbred killer cannibals from the first film). Things kick off on the right foot, ducking right into the brand of post-‘80s simplified grotesquery I want to expect from this hillbilly/cannibal exploitation franchise. The pre-credit sequence is far and away the best thing in the film, and delves into that oft-overlooked exploitation subgenre known as insane asylum-sploitation (as of now) in a cruel fashion befitting ‘classics’ like Don’t Look in the Basement. This sequence also sees returning director/first time writer Declan O’Brien quickly recognizing that his previous film was sorely lacking in comedy. I didn’t necessarily find his brand of raunchy, mean-spirited comedy all that funny, but it’s nice to see him at least attempting to infuse a bit of Troma sensibility into the mix. The violence isn’t jaw-droppingly wet, or too creative in its nastiness, but this one actually earns its unrated status, rather than just being unrated because it didn’t bother submitting to the MPAA ratings system. There’s even a reasonably graphic soft-core sex within the first dozen minutes, filling a huge exploitative void left by the hugely T&A-less Wrong Turn 3. The lesbian characters (who get a second brief sex scene in case you missed the first) are ridiculous straight male dream-fulfillers, and aren’t going to win the film a Humanitus, but as a fan of the offensive I can’t help but appreciate the tactless portrayal.
Unfortunately, there’s almost nothing memorable in the film outside of the opening madhouse sequence, and a gruesome (but not that gruesome) cannibalism scene. I wanted to respect the purity of O’Brien’s story, but ended up missing the pseudo-novelty of the third film’s prison break story theme. The characters are mostly defined by their sexual appetites, and their lack of shape and tone wears thin before any of them are iced. I desperately want the standard slasher motifs to continue to work in the modern era, but the entirely un-savvy manner these people mindlessly wander off the trail, find an empty hospital, and then fumble through dark corners is thoroughly frustrating. O’Brien takes the quantity over quantity stance with his walking meat-sacks. His characters are entirely empty and interchangeable, but there are a lot of them, ensuring a lot of death as the film progresses. That’s cool, more kills is always great, but this practice asphyxiates any sense of suspense, because we don’t give a severed dead college student’s head about what happens to anyone. O’Brien’s version of development pertains mostly to boring scenes of unlikable characters arguing, which I’m pretty sure were supposed to lend reality to the situation, but ends up sinking some of the best scenes of graphic violence. Minor stabs at moral complexity don’t work because there’s nothing at stake.
Wrong Turn 4’s general look is what I’d like to call ‘grindhouse clean’. It’s dark, but never dirty. This 1080p, 1.78:1 transfer is mostly better than the included DVD copy because it’s possible to tell what the hell is going on in the darkest of the dark scenes. Director Declan O’Brien and cinematographer Michael Marshall (working with mostly Red One MX cameras) utilize the location’s fluorescent lighting for most of the film, which leads to some subtle contrast levels, and makes it difficult to differentiate elements in low light. The snow-caked outdoor sequences are generally better looking thanks to the higher contrast levels the severe elements allow. The early asylum sequence is relatively blue-tinged, but the rest of the interiors are usually either softer brown or sickly green in tint, and the general saturation (especially the green) increases as the film progresses. The blood red hues are occasionally lost in the darkness and green tint, but also often pop effectively, and are generally the transfer’s most vibrant element. Detail levels are solid, but stylistically not super-sharp, usually due to successfully softer blends (I caught very little in the way of banding effects). There isn’t often a lot in the way of complexity to the compositions, but textures are realistic enough, and elements are separated with only minor compression artefacts on some of the edges.
There isn’t a lot to this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix outside of a few scare cues, and effectively grotesque gore sound effects. Outside of a handful of creaks and moans during the occasional ‘stalking through the creepy unknown’ sequences, there’s very little in the way of surround channel or directional effects, but even the bulk of the spooky ambience sits in the center channel. Dialogue and basic effects are plenty clean, and even when the bad guys are armed with a noisy electric drill it’s easy enough to differentiate between sounds. The mix does clever enough stuff with the music at some points, such as implying it’s coming from the room the teenagers are partying in by muffling it as the cannibals check them out from outside a one-way mirror. Otherwise Claude Foisy’s score fills out the stereo spread pretty well, and the pop tunes offer a good clean forum for the LFE channel.
The extras begin with a commentary track featuring director Declan O'Brien, and ‘behind the scene producer’ Brett Levinson (Levingston?). Leving-whatever acts as an interviewer, and does a fine, professional job of keeping the discussion moving, and ensuring the important facts are covered. O’Brien seems like the type that could do a decent job on his own, but he pauses enough that the interview setting seems valuable. As an exercise in information it works (especially if you’re the type that wonders what brands of cameras and lenses were used for the film), but O’Brien’ has a terrible habit of laughing at his own jokes. And by ‘jokes’ I often mean ‘gore gags’ (‘Oh that’s just wrong, heh heh.’), though at one point he pauses the talking to point out his favourite line, and claps after the actor says it. He claps at a line he wrote. Behind the scenes anecdotes are often amusing, and give a decent look behind the scenes of a modestly budgeted studio production.
‘Director’s Die-ary’s’ (that’s their misused apostrophe on a fake word, not mine, 7:40, HD) is a series of five brief behind the scenes video diaries (that is the correct plural use, by the way) that mix hardy-har-har antics with quick scenes from the final film. ‘Making Another Wrong Turn’ (12:40, HD) is a little more substantial of an EPK, focused on the difficulties of making an effects heavy film in such little time and with little money, and features interviews with O’Brien, producer Kim Todd, actors Ali Tataryn, Tenika Davis, Jenny Pudavick, Victor Zinck Jr, Dean Armstrong, Daniel Skene, Sean Skene, Scotty Johnson, Kaitlyn Wong and Samantha Kendrick, make-up effects supervisor Doug Morrow, and effects assistants Mike Hamilton, Tamara Harrod and Don Greenberg. ‘Lifestyles of the Sick and Infamous’ (5:10, HD) focuses on the spooky location the film was shot on, and includes interviews with O’Brien, Todd, production designer Rejean Labrie, and the bulk of the cast. Both Todd and Labrie take credit for discovering the location. The disc also features a music video featuring The Blackout City Kids, a collection of 13 deleted/extended scenes (18:10, HD), and Fox release trailers.
I tried to enjoy Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginning for what it was: a low-concept, high gore stalk and slash horror movie. But even with low expectations and open arms I can’t bring myself to recommend this largely frustrating, lowbrow exercise. There are some good bits of graphic violence, so the gorehounds in the house may get some satisfaction out of a rental. It’s not a very attractive film, and it has basement level production values (or as far into the basement as a studio film can get), but the 1080p transfer looks quite clear, and the modest sound design sounds just fine in DTS-HD Master Audio sound. Extras are decent, and include a half good, half bad commentary, and a large collection of deleted/extended scenes.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 25th October 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Director Commentary, Director's Die-aries, Making Another Wrong Turn, Lifestyles of the Sick and Infamous, Wrong Turn 4 Music Video, Deleted/Alternate Scenes, Trailers, DVD Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Declan O'Brien
Cast: Ali Tataryn, Tenika Davis, Jenny Pudavick, Victor Zinck Jr, Dean Armstrong, Daniel Skene, Sean Skene, Scotty Johnson, Kaitlyn Wong and Samantha Kendrick
Length: 93 minutes
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