The first film of the Wrong Turn franchise opens as typical of many slashers– the death of two characters that have nothing to do with the rest of the film. Director Rob Schmidt sets the scene perfectly by killing off two college students who are rock climbing in West Virginia in a very gripping scene- involving the side of a cliff, a dead boyfriend, barbed wire and a mad struggle to get away.
Moving swiftly on to the main story- Medical student, Chris Flynn (Desmond Harrington) is driving through West Virginia on his way to a job interview when his route is interrupted by a road accident and he is forced to take a shortcut down an unmarked route (duh duh duh). Due to some rather careless, Chris crashes into a broken-down car belonging to a group on a hiking trip, Jessie (Eliza Dushku), Carly (Emmanuelle Chirqui), Scott (Jeremy Sisto), Francine (Lindy Booth) and Evan (Kevin Zegers). Jessie, Carly, Scott and Chris go into the woods to find help whilst Evan and Francine stay put in the car. In true ‘Horror 101’ style, Francine and Evan get down and dirty and, after hearing a strange noise and going to investigate, both characters meet their ends- Francine in a particularly gruesome fashion.Jessie quickly emerges as the final girl (looking every inch a vampire slayer – or in this case cannibal slayer – in a mud-covered, white vest with an ass-kicking attitude to boot) as the group begins to be picked off by a trio of terrifying and ultimately in-bred cannibals who ride around in an equally creepy yellow truck.
With some inventive deaths, a traditional yet effective location, some great (and likeable) stock characters, a troupe of gruesome killers and a good director, Wrong Turn manages to perfectly showcase all we love about a good, straight-forward slasher movie. No, it is not the most original of movies (“Must I remind you of a little film called ‘Deliverance’?” – a direct quote from the film), nor is it particularly ground-breaking, but it doesn’t try to be. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet still manages to give a few genuine scares and dishes out a good deal of tension. A movie that I can (and do) watch over and over again, and though it doesn’t terrify me to my very core, I always have a good time watching it. It’s true that it didn’t receive the highest ratings in the world, but if you go in to it open-minded to enjoy it for what it is – and not for what it isn’t – then you’re sure to enjoy it.