Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead (2009)

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Let us proceed quickly down the cinematic quality scale for Wrong Turn 3, a straight-to-video, filmed in Bulgaria P.O.S. with almost no redeeming qualities. It’s overwritten, stars no one, and features only ONE hideously deformed inbred mutant cannibal hillbilly. Well, two, actually. Maybe three. But mainly just one, and that’s not nearly enough.

Things open with a bang, as a quartet of rafters park their boats in the middle of the boonies to smoke weed and make out. (The first victim announces, “I’m going to burn a stick.” I think the last and only time I heard that phrase was in an After School Special about a high school undercover cop.) Three of the four adventurers are summarily dispatched by Three Finger, the little freak from the first Wrong Turn, who looks kinda like Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown crossed with an old-timey prospector. He’s the one who hunts with a bow, and soon he’s racked himself up a nice little body count under extremely arrowing circumstances (see what I did there?). Meanwhile, in some other movie, a couple of cops are transferring a school bus full of dangerous prisoners to, um, a different prison for some reason. The cops opt for the scenic route through rural West Virginia, where they soon find themselves stalked by a very determined little cannibal.

Ye gods, what’s with all the plot cluttering up everything? Note to writer Connor James Delaney and director Declan O’Brien: We don’t care about the racial tension between the two alpha prisoners, Chavez (Tamer Hassan) and Floyd (Gil Kolirin); we don’t care about an armored car full of money that conveniently turns up; and we sure as shit don’t care about the hopes and dreams of good-guy cop Nate Wilson (Tom Frederic). We’re here for two (2) things: grim, grisly deaths and the constant threat of cannibalism. Your decision to downsize that threat into a single antagonist may have shaved a few bucks off the makeup budget, but it left Wrong Turn 3, sadly bereft in the terror department.

In your defense, there were a few decent kills (the truck-drag comes to mind) and a splash of nudity, so thanks for that. And the scene where Three Finger happily chows down on Chavez’s brain like it’s a piece of birthday cake was a nice surprise. Well, only three more Wrong Turns left. Let’s hope this was the bottom of the barrel.

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Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

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On the scariness scale, if you stack Wrong Turn up against The Hills Have Eyes, I’ll take Wrong Turn every time. Granted, it’s a close call, but I find the isolation of backwoods West Virginia to be more sinister and oppressive than the stony desert of the American Southwest. At least the latter is open country so it’s more difficult to be taken by surprise. In the dense vegetation of the forest primeval, bad shit could be hiding anywhere—and probably is. Plus the deft artistry of monster makeup maestro Stan Winston in Wrong Turn is impossible to top.

As far as sequels go, Wrong Turn 2, while not up to the original, is pretty good fun. Like Texas Chainsaw 2, this one plays it for gruesome laughs, as the story concerns the pilot for a reality show called Ultimate Survivalist. As hosted by steely bad-ass Col. Dale Murphy (Henry Rollins, who seems right at home here), it’s a cheap Survivor knockoff, with six sacks of meat representing the usual cannon fodder food groups (slut, jock, buffoon, ass-kicker chick, etc.) tasked with remaining resilient in the boonies after the collapse of civilization. But of all the boonies in all the world, they had to pick the stomping grounds of deformed, inbred cannibal hillbillies. Oh, is that the dinner bell?

As I alluded earlier, the makeup effects are merely competent in Wrong Turn 2, but that’s to be expected. Also in the “tsk tsk” column is a needlessly determined effort by writers Turi Meyer and Al Septien to add “color” to the script by including a relationship subplot between plucky producer Mara Stone (Aleksa Palladino) and doofus director “M” (Matthew Currie Holmes) that has fuck-all to do with anything. Still in all, director Joe Lynch keeps the ball rolling, the blood flowing, and the doomed campers fleeing like bunnies through the bush.

And to give credit where it’s due, Meyer and Septien serve up an ace in their depiction of the monstrous (though eerily familiar) cannibal clan, who provide us with a domestic tableau that’s not only a dead-on tribute to Texas Chainsaw Massacre (specifically the dinner table sequence), but also bloody revolting in its own right. Is it really anymore grotesque than say, Honey Boo Boo, or that awful TV family who seem to spawn every other month? Really, I couldn’t say, but I probably would tune in to a show about the daily adventures of this particular pack of deformed, inbred cannibal hillbillies. Coming next season to TLC…

Bonus: There are three more Wrong Turn movies available! Hope they measure up, but I’m certainly not expecting miracles. Stay tuned!