First published by Little White Lies
“He’s making the wrong turn,” complains Daniel (Dean Armstrong), “I knew it.”
Even if his nine co-ed companions are devil-may-care fools, blithely happy to ride their snowmobiles into an oncoming blizzard with night falling, rule-bound, neurotic Daniel can read all the signs of trouble ahead – and his words speak of a knowing weariness with the trappings of the genre in which he finds himself. Anyone familiar with the other Wrong Turn films will know that Daniel’s sensible caution will count for nought – for in this franchise, the sex maniacs, the pranksters, the lesbians, even the obvious candidate for ‘final girl’, are all equally doomed to end up on the cannibal hillbillies’ chopping block. It is only a question of when, and how. Best not to think about why.
Rob Schmidt’s Wrong Turn was such a drearily derivative throwback to all the least interesting elements of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes that its sequels have at least the potential to outdo it, as Joe Lynch proved with his superior, self-parodic Wrong Turn 2: Dead End which upped the ante several notches by introducing a brainless reality TV show to the backwoods, and let an amped-up Henry Rollins run riot through the already chaotic mix of sensibilities. Unfortunately Declan O’Brien’s Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead was a return to the by-numbers approach of the original, and in a sense so is his second entry, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings – although in the meantime the writer/director has picked up a little more self-conscious craziness, perhaps from helming Sharktopus…
You might suppose, both from this film’s subtitle and the setting of its opening in 1974 (the same year The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was released), that this is to be a prequel and origins story. Certainly the beginning is very bloody, as the teen versions of Three Finger, One Eye and Sawtooth escape from their cell to wreak bloody vengeance on the doctors in charge of them – but once O’Brien has parodied Silence Of The Lambs (Sawtooth even wears a Lecter mask) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in rapid succession, we’re back to 2003 (when the original Wrong Turn came out), and our foolhardy co-eds end up seeking refuge in the same hospital – once apparently a sanatorium with only mutants for residents. An old, abandoned asylum is a location rather different from the cabin featured in the other three films, but it is no less of a horror cliché.
O’Brien delivers everything that franchise fans who have stayed the distance could want: utterly gratuitous nudity, grunting mountain men, gore by the bucketload, and local cooking tips (“They’re eating him alive like some fucked-up fondue!” goes one line, with graphic accompanying illustration). The characters, as ever, are largely interchangeable, but perhaps this hardly matters when they are all for the pot – and their near universal obnoxiousness only makes us relish their grisly fate all the more. In any case, with its one screening scheduled to coincide with Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac remake, only compulsive completists will catch it at FrightFest anyway (although a DVD/Blu-ray release follows almost immediately). Meanwhile O’Brien is determined to keep his bloody mitts on the series – he has just completed Wrong Turn 5.
© Anton Bitel