Directed by Rob Schmidt [Other horror films: The Alphabet Killer (2008)]
In some ways, I do view this one as a modern-day classic. It’s not amazing, by any means, but it’s consistently entertaining and solidly gruesome (though honestly, there’s not really a ton of onscreen onslaught), and had we not been over-inundated with sequels, I think this one would stand out more positively to a larger population of horror fans.
The story here is simple, and takes from such classics as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes (and in fact, I wonder if this movie had anything to do with The Hills Have Eyes being remade just three years later), the only difference being that this movie feels more real than either of those two. Taking place in the dense forests of West Virginia (though filmed entirely in Canada), the setting was solid, and the plot, though simple, quite effective.
I think a lot of this comes from the fact that the characters here are mostly decent people. I think that Desmond Harrington’s (Love Object) performance is a little one-dimensional, but Eliza Dushku was great as a kick-ass female protagonist, and I really liked Jeremy Sisto (Population 436) here too. Emmanuelle Chriqui was the least-engaging of the four main characters, but Lindy Booth was attractive, so there you go.
The action here is also pretty top-notch, with a few chase scenes in tree-tops, and some bow and arrow action. Perhaps my favorite scene is when the three inbred killers are chopping up someone while the four characters are hiding in their shack. We never see much, but it has a gritty, brutal aura to it all the same. Even the conclusion was decently-believable action, and overall, I didn’t have a lot of complaints when it came to the action, or the various tense scenes here (the watchtower too being a scene worth mentioning).
Like I said, I don’t think the movie is necessarily special, and it’s somewhat bare-bones in it’s presentation (though I do think that works to it’s favor), but I’ve always enjoyed this one, and seeing it again after many years only confirms that. I’ve not seen all the sequels (the second, third, and fourth are all I’ve gotten around to, and none come close to this one), but I doubt any of them would be as solid as this one is.
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Wrong Turn.