by Sherry Lipp
FULLY UPDATED to include Blu-ray details.
While I wouldn’t consider the original Wrong Turn (2003) a classic, I thought it was a pretty decent horror film that provided some real scares. With Wrong Turn 5 (aka Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines) – available on Blu-ray and DVD October 23 – the thrills have been replaced with over-the-top, gross-out murders that provide almost no tension or suspense. Like its immediate predecessor, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, this film is a prequel to the first one. That piece of information makes no difference in the storytelling, but that’s where it falls in the overall series. The most notable thing about Wrong Turn 5 is the appearance of Doug Bradley, best known as Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies. Otherwise this film is standard gross-out fare that fails on pretty much every level.
This time around a bunch of kids have set off to a small West Virginian town to attend the Mountain Men Festival, apparently a hillbilly answer to Burning Man. It should be noted that no one actually makes a wrong turn in this movie. I’m not sure why they dispensed with that aspect. Well, okay, a Mountain Man groupie – played by Borissa Tiutiundjieva (yes, she disrobes) – does make a “wrong turn” and ends up getting wild in the back of a police car. (She’s billed as Borisa Tutundjieva.) But instead of a true wrong turn, the kids have an unfortunate run-in with Maynard (Bradley), the leader of the inbred cannibals we’re familiar with from the other movies. It’s not really explained why Maynard is with them. He isn’t an inbred cannibal himself, but he seems to have formed a kinship with them being a fugitive murderer himself. The run-in lands Maynard and the kids in the local jail where they’re guarded by a plucky Sheriff named Angela (Camilla Arfwedson). Suffice it to say, the inbred cannibals don’t like having their leader in jail and they aim to do something about it.
The problem with a movie like Wrong Turn 5 is that once you’ve seen one over-the-top, gross-out murder you’ve seen them all. Yeah, they’re all a little different, each one trying to out-splatter the previous, but after the first one you’re immediately desensitized to following one. Everything in the movie is perfunctory. There’s just enough dialogue and action to get to the next attack by the cannibals. Anyone who’s ever seen any teen horror movie will know what’s coming next. Bradley is the only actor to give any kind of memorable performance. The trio of cannibals themselves are hardly scary. Two of them look like they are dressed as the GEICO Cavemen (seriously). The white-haired third one annoyingly giggles like a maniacal schoolgirl the whole time. All of the costumes look like they were purchased from a Halloween costume shop. I only point this out because it adds to the fact that there is no weight to this film.
I suppose people who get a kick out of the Wrong Turn movies may get a laugh to two out of this one. I doubt they will get many scares. If you haven’t seen the other films, there’s no real reason to start with this one. I enjoyed the first one, and I think I will stick to that.
Update 11/1: I’ve now had the chance to review the finished Blu-ray and I’m happy to say the 1080p transfer is very strong. It’s not that Wrong Turn 5 is a pretty movie to look at, but the digital cinematography is well represented here in terms of clarity and detail. It’s actually this type of razor-sharpness that can hurt the look of makeup appliances, giving them such a “real” look that we can tell they’re fake. This is basically a flawless visual presentation and a quick comparison to the included standard DVD confirms that the high definition transfer is far richer. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is also terrific, especially considering this was a quickly-produced, inexpensive, direct-to-video horror film. The rear channels are used surprisingly effectively and the subwoofer is engaged satisfyingly, too. Dialogue is perfectly sharp, with Doug Bradley’s lines sounding notably full and resonant (which is appropriate, given that he’s the main bad guy).
So what kind of special features has Fox provided to supplement the latest Wrong Turn? The best feature by far is the audio commentary track by director Declan O’Brien and producer Brett Levinson. What’s fun about this track is that these guys are well aware they weren’t making Citizen Kane here. This is a chatty track with lots of humor. O’Brien brings lots of Wrong Turn experience to the table, referencing his other directorial turns in the franchise (part three and four). Levinson does a great job of guiding the commentary, bringing up new topics of conversation for O’Brien to elaborate on. Too often on solo tracks, directors seem to run out of things to say. Levinson makes sure that doesn’t happen and we get plenty of inside info about the gore and special effects.
The rest of the extras are a little skimpy, unfortunately. There are three featurettes that run for about 20 minutes total. First up is “A Day in the Death” (five minutes), which shows some of the actors at work on-location in Bulgaria (which stood in for West Virginia). The most interesting aspect of this featurette is hearing some of the UK-based actors (like Paul Luebke) struggling to perfect their American accents.
The seven-minute “Hillbilly Kills” should be the fan favorite here, as it details the various kill scenes throughout the movie. I was initially worried this would just be a crummy montage of clips from the movie, but instead we get a nice look at the gore effects. O’Brien explains here that real animal intestines, livers, and other body parts were bought at a meat market and used for the bloodiest scenes. Particularly gnarly is the animal-innard-stuffed corpse used for the tractor scene. Every major kill scene is discussed in this entertaining featurette.
“Director’s Die-aries” is an eight-minute piece that includes some fairly standard behind-the-scenes footage. It almost feels like this was conceived as a longer piece that would track the crew’s progress throughout the whole shoot, but then was ditched in favor of a much shorter piece. It’s nothing special, but it does offer a taste of the atmosphere of a low-budget horror film shoot.
The Blu-ray of Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines also includes a standard DVD and a Digital Copy.