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As a quick paced action horror, Wrong Turn succeeds in being highly entertaining. Even if it isn’t the return to the hardcore classic horror of the past as it was hailed to be, it is a leader in the new wave of less CGI dependent horror films that have started to deliver more thrills and chills. The DVD package Fox has delivered is overall disappointing, but effective.

Wrong Turn

Wrong Turn is a fun, fast paced horror film that relies on a very, very simple plot. Chris (Desmond Harrington, Ghost Ship) is traveling to North Carolina when he discovers his route is blocked. After a few seconds of research at a rundown gas station, he determines that a dotted line on a map is his only recourse. This becomes his wrong turn and leads us into the meat of the movie.

Chris runs into (quite literally) a group of friends that have stumbled with a flat tire on their way to go camping. The strong leader of the group of friends is none other than Jessie (Eliza Dushku). When the group splits with some staying to have a little fun in the woods and the rest going to try to find help, the trouble begins. While trying to find help, the young men and women stumble upon the home of evil inbred mountain men. Their nightmare begins when they cannot escape the house before the three men return. The remainder of the film is divided between running and killing. There is one brilliant scene involving a chase that is happening on the ground and in the treetops. Spots of great filmmaking such as this are found throughout the picture.

Even with such a thin plot, Wrong Turn manages to be highly enjoyable. Without being bogged down by deep characters and a twisting, convoluted plot, the makers of the film have been given the freedom to put the characters onscreen through every ring of hell possible. The inbred mountain men are at times extremely frightening because of the fact that they are human beings. Even though they are deformed, we are able to see that they are men that have been isolated for their entire lives. The film flies by at lightning pace and leaves no time for the audience to get bored. The acting is good across the board. We believe that these people are terrified for their lives at almost every moment. The mountain men, too, have been given a breath of character through the fine actors chosen to give them life through movement and the fine makeup provided by Stan Winston’s crew.

Wrong Turn, however, is not a perfect film. First of all, the movie makes it a point to set the story in West Virginia. The believability of the story relies on your perception of the state. Being a resident of “regular” Virginia and living not too far from the border, I found that I was disappointed by this setting. A better choice may have been to leave the setting unknown. Also, even though the movie is so highly enjoyable because of the quick pace and distinct lack of time spent on character building, it adds up to a low replay value. The movie does not seem to hold up very well on multiple viewings.

Much buzz was placed around this film as a return to the nitty-gritty 70s style of horror filmmaking. I don’t buy that for a second. The difference between Wrong Turn and old 70s genre classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes is budget and mentality. Those 70s classics were made on a shoestring budget and made with the intention of telling a good horror story. Wrong Turn on the other hand is a glossy, decently budgeted studio picture made with the intention of being an old school production. While the movie does have some Tobe Hooper and old-style Wes Craven types of camera work, the film is far too produced to look like the independent fright features of old. Ignoring the claims of pure, raw horror will help to increase your enjoyment of this, mostly, enjoyable horror film.

Wrong Turn

Wrong Turn is presented, on one side, in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. On the flipside, the movie is presented in pan and scan (1.33:1). For review purposes, the widescreen version of the film was scrutinized. The picture on this disc is very good. The daytime scenes in the woods found in the beginning of the movie show off the crisp, vibrant colors that come in this transfer. When the transition is made into night, blacks are deep and other elements maintain their detail. There are no noticeable flaws on the print and, although this picture isn’t the most highly detailed and spectacular ever, it is an impressive transfer.

The movie is loud with normal, every day occurrences having rather thunderous consequences. As such, a fine 5.1 Dolby Surround track is included. The sounds of the forest are rich and totally enveloping. During much of the chase scenes, the mountain men are found all around in different speakers which most certainly adds to the creepiness of the film. Your subwoofer will work overtime as just about everything that happens is accompanied by deep bass. Dialogue is always understandable amongst the surround. An excellent mix to say the least. Dobly Surround tracks in Spanish and French are also included.

Wrong Turn

At first this package appears to be loaded. On close inspection, though, it is found that many of the features are rather fluffy. The commentary is slightly above average. Director Rob Schmidt and stars Desmond Harrington and Eliza Dushku join forces to bring us some good information throughout the film. Desmond stays pretty much quiet while Rob and Eliza add some good tidbits of information about the movie. There is much talk about horror movies in general and Rob is obviously obsessed with convincing himself and everyone who will listen that Wrong Turn is exactly like a raw 70s horror flick. The main problem with this commentary is frequent, long pauses between the information. It is worth a listen for fans.

There are also the advertised deleted scenes. One is a slightly (and I mean slight enough that I had to spend a good part of a half hour comparing the final scene and the “deleted scene”) of one of the characters deaths. Following this is a reel of dailies of the aforementioned death scene. This is interesting for about 30 seconds and then becomes very repetitive. The only major scene here still isn’t even a deleted scene, it would fall more under the extended scene category. It is an alternate, longer version of the waterfall scene and Jessie’s reminiscing about her friends.

Four featurettes are included on this DVD. “Making of Wrong Turn” is a fluffy promotion piece with some interview clips that serve only to support the movie. There is nothing about the making of this film in this featurette. “Eliza Dushku: Babe in the Woods” is a tragically titled featurette that gives some information on the choice of Dushku and the reactions to what those involved viewed as a stellar performance. The “Stan Winston” featurette is a short piece with the always fun to hear from Stan Winston, the man himself, and gives him a chance to talk about his roots and his career path. He explains why he chose to produce wrong turn and gives some information about a few of the effects decisions that were made. Finally, the best featurette by far is “Fresh Meat: The Wounds of Wrong Turn” which is, while still on the fluffy side, much more full of information about the film. The featurette explains how some of the gruesome effects were created.

There is a poster concept gallery which highlights some of the posters that were considered for the promotion of the film. I really liked this feature. It was very interesting to see the materials that didn’t ever see the light of day. I do have to admit, as well, that I found some of the rejected posters to be very cool. The theatrical trailer is also included.

Wrong Turn

A great picture, great sound and slightly disappointing set of extras add up to a decent DVD package. Wrong Turn is a glimmering light at the beginning of a road that horror fans have been given the wonderful opportunity to travel on. Studios are beginning to realize that special effects and computer generated monsters are not what we need. As such, we can see from films such as Wrong Turn that success relies on the thrills provided. Fans of the genre will be glad to add this to their collection. Any other curious parties will do well by checking this out.