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Wrong Turn (2003) Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 September 2009
ImageI'll admit that I am not a big horror film fan.  There are a few that are decent, but for the most part the genre does not appeal to me.  The "Saw" series, which I think is up to six in total by now, is just ridiculous.  Where is the entertainment value in these films?  So when I sat down to watch "Wrong Turn," I was pessimistic from the start.  But at usual, my instincts did not prove to be wrong.

I barely remember this film coming out in theaters in 2003.  It is surprising that it actually made it to theaters.  The box office income and budget for the making of the film pretty much offset each other.  It surprises me that the film cost that much to make and it surprises me that the film actually made enough to call it even.  Regardless, here's what is going on in this film.

There is absolutely nothing original about this horror flick.  There are the killers and then there is the group of college students that run for their lives.  The film is missing nearly every aspect of what makes a film interesting.  One is originality.  However, we will let that one slide.  A film can still be good without reinventing the wheel.  However, the next point I can't let slip by: character backstory.

The film gives us nothing in terms of who these characters are.  Why should I care what happens to either side if I know nothing of the characters other than surface level information.  Apparently one guy is in medical school or just out of med school.  One girl has been dumped by her boyfriend.  Her four friends drag her out to the middle of nowhere to get out of the city.  I'm guessing at that one.  Then there are the killers.  The only explanation for the killers is some brief, practically illegible newspaper article headlines that flash by in the opening credits.  I caught one of them displaying, "Genetic Mutation."  That's all we know.  The only connection between the headline and killers is the hideously disfigured physical appearance of the killers.  Still, we have no real motive for these killers.

When a truck accident blocks the only highway road, an impatient young man fresh from med school and on his way to an interview takes a detour.  An old map at a gas station indicates that there is a backroad that also heads south.  Unaware of what lies in the woods he takes off for Bear Mountain Road.  After taking his eyes off the road for a split second he crashes head on into a stranded vehicle.  Jessie (Eliza Dushku) and her four friends are stranded due to some barbed wire that was laying across the road.
With no operational vehicles, four of the six head out to find help while the other two remain behind.  While it is apparent before it is even set up that these two left behind are going to be the first of the bunch to go.  That is where I found it hard to remain interested in this film: the predictably to beyond just predictable.  Before all the characters are introduced you know exactly who is going to die and in what order, and who is going to make it out alive.  Hint: it is always one guy and one girl.

After her work in "Buffy" I find it difficult to believe that Eliza Dushku would accept a role like this.  But I guess that we all need a paycheck.  Fortunate for her, she is the only reason to watch this film.  None of the acting is good by any means.  Even Al Pacino could not make this script work.

Fox brings the film to Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  The video quality is hardly even on par.  The entire image is washed out.  It seems as though the entire image is buried behind a thin layer of fuzz.  The image constantly smears, a clear sign of digital noise reduction.  Noise reduction is also apparent as the film grain is uneven and unnatural throughout the film.  Black levels are not very deep and frequently result in crushing.  Shadow delineation is okay but not very revealing.  Details and textures are flat and empty.  The colors are smeared and dull.  The forest has no pop, as the greens are very unsatisfying.  Fleshtones are plugged.  Edges are sloppy.  I could go on an on, but you get the picture, pun intended.  This hardly offers an upgrade from the standard DVD.

The audio is much better in terms of the quality than the video.  We are given a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track that explosive, but hardly accurate.  Directionality is poor at best.  Separation of sound effects is rare.  This muddy nature serves to make directionality nearly impossible.  Forest ambience is hit or miss in the surround channels.  Sometimes it is there and at other times it completely disappears.  Dialogue is always clean and upfront, grounded in the center channel.  The LFE channel comes and goes.  It is only during the car crash and the final explosion that the LFE ever really becomes noticeable.  The quality of the original production and mix of the audio clearly falls in line with the budget allocation.  Dynamics are decent, but could have been better.  There is no suspense in the music or sound effects.  I have seen and heard horror films that keep you sitting on the couch all tensed up.  This is not one of those films.

The Blu-ray comes with several bonus materials despite the quality of the film.  There are no exclusive bonus features and all features remain in standard definition.  First there is an audio commentary with director Rob Schmidt and actors Eliza Dushku and Desmond Harrington.  This audio track is much better than the film alone.  I recommend only watching this film with the audio commentary.  It turns the film into a comedic horror film.  There are some forgettable deleted scenes.  There are four featurettes.  "The Making of 'Wrong Turn'" is a standard featurette.  "Eliza Dushku: Babe in the Woods" is utterly laughable.  This featurette tries to talk about Dushku's character and the background to her character that isn't there.  This featurette is just nonsense.  "Stan Winston" discusses the career of the titled producer.  Lastly, "Fresh Meat: The Wounds of 'Wrong Turn'" is another nonsense featurette that tries to persuade viewers of their filmmaking intentions.  A trailer is also present on this Blu-ray.

"Wrong Turn" is hardly a horror film and it is hardly entertaining.  The lack of any type of character development is really disturbing.  The video quality is at the bottom of the barrel and the audio quality is lacking the clarity of a big budget horror film.  All I can say is that it is going to be difficult to sit and watch the sequel let alone the apparent third installment of the trilogy that is coming out soon.  Steer clear if you ask me.

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