Wrong Turn (Blu-ray)
Directed by Rob Schmidt
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 84 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, 3.0 Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: September 15, 2009
Review Date: September 18, 2009
Every cliché known to moviegoers familiar with stalker/slasher movies has been utilized in Rob Schmidt’s Wrong Turn. Claiming that his film is a tribute to the horror films of the 1970s (The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), it’s less a tribute and more of a regurgitated house of horrors, an unpleasant and somewhat irritating shocker with a fair share of scares but also with the usual expected shock effects that don’t really constitute anything like an advance in the genre. What worked then is still being used, and there don’t appear to be any new tricks up the filmmakers’ sleeves.
Taking a detour off the main highway blocked by a tanker which has overturned, Chris Finn (Desmond Harrington) runs into a group of five campers whose car has been sabotaged by an unknown force. With no cell phone reception, the group has no choice but to divide up leaving two (Kevin Zegers, Lindy Booth) with the cars while the rest of them (Eliza Dushku, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jeremy Sisto) go searching for a land line so they can call and make arrangements to be rescued. Deep in a thick forest, they stumble onto a ramshackle cabin which is loaded not only with cast off items resembling yard sale merchandise but also assorted body parts. Not quick enough to get out before the three inbred cretins (Julian Richings, Garry Robbins, Ted Clark) return, the quartet find themselves having to risk their lives to escape from these monstrous killing machines.
So we’ve got the sex-obsessed young adults, some of whom have the intelligence and manners of chewing gum, the unstoppable and seemingly invulnerable killers, a wide expanse of unfamiliar and unfriendly territory for the heroes to traverse, and enough weapons to exact the maximum amount of gore and pain: in short, all of the ingredients for a fun slasher flick. Only we’ve seen all of this before. We’ve seen the innocents and the jerks be the first to get killed. We’ve seen the dunderheaded decisions that make escape improbable. We’ve seen people whose lives are on the line stop to cry or give up without making honest efforts to escape only to be talked into caring again (of course with our knowing they’re sure to be doomed the minute they decide they want to live). And don’t forget those faux scares, those moments where someone’s back is to the camera and a hand grabs his shoulder and jerks him around (cue up the spiky music on the soundtrack, too). It’s all as familiar as yesterday’s news. Sure, director Rob Schmidt creates one really great murder moment that I hadn’t seen before. But for the rest, Alan McElroy’s derivative script (really, is there any surprise any more that madmen who appear dead never are and spring back up for more) doesn’t bring anything fresh to the table, and the climactic moments where the hero must go back to save someone are so outrageous that they practically defy description. Insults to one’s intelligence are alive and well in Wrong Turn.
Even highly regarded actors like Kevin Bacon and John Travolta and Renee Zellweger have a horror film or two on their resumes, so it’s no insult that top flight actors like Eliza Dushku and Jeremy Sisto are here doing the best they can with substandard material. Dushku’s toughness might have made her a more appealing action hero for the film than top-billed Desmond Harrington. Sisto has some engaging moments apart from the gore scenes, but he doesn’t have many opportunities to do what he does best. As for the rest of the victims, was it really necessary to make Lindy Booth’s Francine such a selfish jerk that we actually want to see her meet a grisly end? The three monsters in Stan Winston’s cannily crafted mutant makeup make effective enough boogeymen, but as is typical of these movies, there’s no exploration of any aspect of their lives to lift them above the status of one-dimensional fiends.
The film is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is only slightly above average in medium shots and close-ups while long shots tend to go soft and sometimes demonstrate smearing. While flesh tones can be appealing and natural, often color saturation and fidelity seems a bit wanting. Black levels are fine. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is quite loud and usually effective with its blend of driving, bombastic music and the occasional ambient effect. The LFE channel gets a nice workout, too, adding some depth to the overall mix.
The audio commentary by director Rob Schmidt and co-stars Eliza Dushku and Desmond Harrington really isn’t particularly interesting. Though they have an easy relationship and crack each other up on occasion, what they have to say about their work on the movie is pretty bland and predictable, and they have less to say as the movie plays.
The bonus featurettes are all presented in 480i.
There are three deleted scenes which may be viewed separately or my be watched in one 7-minute grouping.
“Fresh Meat: The Wounds of Wrong Turn” is a discussion with the producer Stan Winston and the director Rob Schmidt about the makeup effects for the three killers and also the creation of several unusual murders for the movie. This featurette, the longest contained on the disc, runs 9 ½ minutes.
“The Making of Wrong Turn” is the very fluffy 4-minute EPK for the film featuring Winston, Schmidt, and the principal actors singing the film’s praises.
“Eliza Dushku: Babe in the Woods” is a typical puff piece on the film’s leading lady with the producers describing how much they wanted her for the film and the actress talking about her tough stunts which she got mostly to perform herself. It lasts 3 ¾ minutes.
A tribute to Stan Winston finds the film’s producer describing his first works in television (which led to two straight Emmys) and his film work (which brought him even greater recognition and awards including Oscars) in this 4 ¾-minute interview.
The film’s theatrical trailer runs for 2 ¼ minutes.
2.5/5 (not an average)
There’s a decent scare or two in Wrong Turn, but unless you’re a fan of the actors, there isn’t much here that you haven’t seen before if you’ve viewed even a small sampling of slasher movies. The Blu-ray features adequate picture and sound for high definition, but there is nothing exemplary here either.