Case Number 17401


Fox // 2003 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 2nd, 2009

The Charge

Something strange is happening deep in the woods...but no one's lived to tell about it.

Opening Statement

Question: What is the scariest thing in the world? Answer: Creepy little Japanese girls with big eyes!
Question: What is the second-scariest thing in the world? Answer: Hillbillies!

Facts of the Case

While traveling to Raleigh, a guy named Chris (Desmond Harrington, Dexter) takes a backwoods road and stumbles on a stranded group of friends, including a spunky girl named Jessie (Eliza Dushku, Dollhouse). Turns out they were sidelined by some barbed wire subterfuge, and lurking in the woods is a trip of deformed freaks, angling to capture themselves some tasty tourists.

It's not long before Chris, Jessie, and some cannon fodder are running for their lives through the woods of West Virginia, the inbred maniacs determined to add our heroes to the menu.

The Evidence

This is actually the first time I've seen Wrong Turn. I went in expecting a typical slasher flick with a redneck twist -- something derivative, predictable, and loyal to the genre play-by-play. Well, color me surprised! This ended up entertaining me.

Less a straight-up horror movie and more a thriller with horror elements, Wrong Turn is more concerned with telling a white-knuckle survival tale than pooping out some scattered jump scare sand dumping on the gore. I can appreciate that.

Really, this is a badass little tale that only trips up at the end, when the plot backslides into familiar genre territory, with the bad guys displaying a shocking resilience to lethal attacks. I'm willing to forgive that, though, since the filmmakers graciously skipped over the more glaring clichés that would have instantly led to my exasperation.

As the two leads, Dushku and Harrington are compelling. As anyone who's ever seen her other work can attest, Dushku kicks a lot of ass in an action setting and that doesn't change here. She's not invincible and needs some rescuing from time to time, but that only makes her character more endearing and realistic. As her counterpart, Harrington, a guy I like in everything I've see him in, kicks an equal amount of ass and comes through in a big way at the end. The two of them single-handedly help elevate the material to something memorable. Not iconic, but definitely far more enjoyable than the usual hack and slash tripe.

The Blu-ray upgrade brings with it a noticeable tech bump, but not much else. The 1.85:1 widescreen video treatment sports a vivid jump in picture quality. The backwoods setting lends itself to some beautiful scenery, all of which comes across well in its new high-def makeover. Even the darker sequences -- particularly when the good guys are hiding out in a watchtower under cover of night -- are rendered nicely. Unfortunately, the added clarity makes the big explosion at the end look fake. For audio, the release gets a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix that's robust and crisp, blasting out some nice sound during the big action moments. Extras are recycled from the standard-def release: Commentary from director Rob Schmidt, Dushku, and Harrington; deleted scenes,; and four behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making-of, Eliza Dushku, Stan Winston's make-up, and the wound effects.

Closing Statement

A dope little survival horror flick scores a great-looking and slick-sounding HD presentation, but no new extras are a disappointment.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Cue the banjo.

Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

* English (SDH)
* Spanish

Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes

* IMDb