Impressions: Wrong Turn

Wrong Turn is a 2003 horror film following a group that gets stuck in the woods in the middle of nowhere. While trying to find a way out of their predicament, the group discovers that a family of cannibals purposely traps and hunts people that end up in the area to eat them. So basically, Texas Chainsaw Massacre without the chainsaws or Texas. Or The Hills Have Eyes without the hills? What I mean to say is that it’s not the most creative of plotlines from a horror movie (turned franchise) but can be an entertaining one. So is Wrong Turn entertaining? Well…

The movie is not without its good moments. The overall pacing is pretty decent. It is a short movie, which works in its favor because this could have become a grind to watch. Instead it seemed to understand that less is more and went with that. The downside, of course, is that it eats into time to build tension. The movie manages to be pretty solid despite that. There are a few tense moments and some decent kills and gore. However, when compared to similar movies, nothing really stands out, it’s good that I can’t point to much and say “this is bad,” but I can’t really point to much and call it great either.

The plot and characters are okay. If anything, it’s a little rushed on development, on both ends, and once again nothing to stand out. Eliza Dushku is supposed to be the clear selling point, and she does fine with the role. She’s not a bad actress, but there was nothing to sink her teeth into as far as her character, so even that feels a bit meh.

Probably the biggest problem that Wrong Turn faced is that it came out in the middle of the slasher craze. The late 90s and early to mid-00s were filled with not only a new breed of slasher flicks, but it was right about the time that slasher remakes were also taking off. The problem with trends in film is that it presents an issue for filmmakers. Do you go away from what is trendy to stand out but risk the audience being alienated because they want another slasher? Or do you stay on trend and risk your movie not standing out and being forgettable? While both options present a challenge, the movie can’t blame that entirely. A great movie can overcome either bad case scenario. Wrong Turn didn’t manage to do that. It was just another slasher film lost in a sea of them.

In fact, the same year as Wrong Turn, we were treated to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, and a few short years later, The Hills Have Eyes remake. While I have my issues with remakes, both of those movies were decent. All three movies (Hills, Turn, TCM) have similar plots, and while TCM and Hills made the most of it, and even managed to be unique from one another, Wrong Turn was not able to accomplish the same thing.

It is just a weak movie comparatively, and it has a lot to be compared to.

This seems super negative, which, as you know, is against the grain of the tone I like to take with my Impressions. I just want to get the cards on the table, however. The movie is pretty much average. I don’t think there is much here to push it into bad territory but rather average slasher trash. All that being said… I kind of like it. It’s not a favorite movie of mine, and there are much better ones from the same slasher era. However, it is entertaining enough from start to finish and makes for a solid enough watch when you don’t know what you are in the mood for other than just “horror.”

I am a fan of the slasher craze from that time, I grew up on a lot of these movies, and so even the ones that are new(er) to me I still have some nostalgia for. Wrong Turn falls into that for me. It is very much of the times in all the good and bad ways you can take that for. It is decent enough and worth a watch if you haven’t seen it or a revisit if it’s been a while. Sadly it was never able to distinguish itself, so it isn’t really an experience that will stick with most people. As a genre fan, I still vote that this movie (and likely the rest of the franchise which I haven’t seen) is worth a peek at. Just don’t expect to write home about it.

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