The Wrong Turn movies have carved a fun niche for themselves in the grim, serious and sadistic world of modern horror. While the original was rescued from the backwoods meat-shack of mediocrity by a better-than average cast and some expectedly awesome makeup FX, the series really cam into its own with Joe Lynch’s Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, which took the hackneyed premise of killers stalking a reality TV shoot and managed to turn it into one of the most unrepentantly goofy, gruesome and entertaining cannibal hill-folk movies since Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead attempts to follow that formula and starts off well, with premise that should have been a lot of fun: A bus transporting inmates from a maximum security prison is waylaid by killer hillbillies. Boom! That’s all you need. A premise like that should write itself. Unfortunately, it seems that the premise just provided a simple treatment before handing it off to a mortal production team who didn’t really know what to do with it. More after the jump:
The elements are all there. The collection of good-guy inmates, scary-guy inmates and noble guards, a Treasure of the Sierra Madre style subplot involving found money, a nubile college age survivor girl, a prologue involving teen campers providing a gobsmackingly gratuitous display of fake, naked boobs, allusions to ‘who the real monsters are’ and a whole bunch of creative, graphic-and-gory as hell violence. Too bad none of it ever gels.
Commenting on the performances in this sort of film feels like bashing a grade school pageant for its lack of biting social commentary, but even among its dubious peers, Wrong Turn 3 stands out. The volatile combination of wooden dialogue Filmed in Bulgeria, starring mostly British actors faking West Virginia accents creates an explosion of awkward, stilted delivery. Stuntman Borislav Iiev does a decent job as the inbred tormentor, though his role consists mainly of tilting his his head at odd angles while running around hoot’n, holler’n and occasionally licking a corpse or bound woman’s face (which is actually perfect for this kind of character).
The gore is plentiful and mostly amusing but also marred by frequent atrocious CGI blood and dismemberment. Curiously, the kill that had the most potential for resonance (the aforementioned ‘who are the real monsters moment’), featuring some, presumably, vicious inmate-on-hillbilly violence is shown off-screen, robbing the proceedings of some potential weight.
The transfer is good enough to tell exactly how poor the cameras they used were, which is something I guess. Though, for this type of affair, I prefer “cheap & grainy” to “expensive & shaky” (see: Texas Chainsaw remake).
The extras are your standard “we’re awesome and fun to work with” EPK crap that you find on nearly every quick-release DTV title out there.
Despite a myriad of flaws Wrong Turn 3‘s heart is in the right place. It’s tone is light and fun and it still features more than a few ‘oh shit’ moments of mayhem. If that’s your thing, and you can overlook the serious wasted potential on display, there are a lot of worse options for mutant hillbilly carnage.
As a movie: C-
As a Cannibal Hillbilly Movie: B