Don't enter Judge David Johnson's woods, unless you want an arrow smack in the tree just to your left. He's not a good shot.
Our review of Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead, published December 3rd, 2009, is also available.
What you don't see will kill you.
I like the first two Wrong Turn films for entirely different reasons. Obviously, Fox is looking to milk the franchise, but have the deranged hillbillies hit their peak already?
Facts of the Case
We're still in West Virginia, and somewhere in the woods lurks Three Finger, the cannibalistic, inbred redneck who likes shooting arrows into bare-breasted women and cackling like a Gremlin. Little does he know, his stomping grounds are about to get hijacked when a prison bus full of killers sails off the road, spilling its pissed-off goons into the forest.
From then on, it's a hunting spree, as Three Finger systematically wipes out each guy in increasingly stupid ways. Can the heroic prison guard get himself, the attractive girl he found running terrified in the woods and the prisoners he's formed a tenuous alliance with to emerge from the backwoods with their heads still attached?
I enjoyed the first Wrong Turn more than I expected. What I had initially thought would be a generic slasher set in the woods with malevolent hillbillies playing the part of the killers turned out to be, well, exactly that, but it was well-placed, nicely-staged exercise in survival horror. I had even lower expectations for the sequel, because you know how straight-to-DVD horror sequels are, but, again, pleasantly surprised; Wrong Turn 2: Dead End ditched the straight-arrow suspense horror and fully embraced tongue-in-cheek splatter and it worked. Now here's Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead, which attempts to meld both approaches from its predecessors and it fails in a big way.
As a horror outing that takes itself seriously, it just doesn't have the thrills to compete. The premise of a bus full of violent convicts versus the hillbillies sounds good. You've got genuine bad guys taking on genuine bad guys where collateral damage and blood spillage means everyone wins. Alas, that's not how thing plays out. There's just Three Finger (and his son, briefly), taking out characters one at a time. Tension is generated only by the question of what manner these dudes will be dispatched. That's not enough to properly build a suspense horror flick on, and the result is a very non-scary slasher flick.
Which leaves you with the quality of the kills. While there's some creativity in the methods of death, the filmmakers decide to overload their gags with CGI gore, a strategy that pisses me off as I see it used more frequently in low-budget horror films. I'm sure this avenue is dictated by a cost-savings measure, but fellas, trust me when I say this: it doesn't work. There's a scene where a guy has his face sliced off—all CGI. Another dude is cut into thirds—all CGI. And the worst offender is the tow-truck dragging death of a convict wrapped in barbed wire; the effects in Flash Gordon are more believable. If gore is where you hope to make your name, divert some cash into the practical props line item. The difference in quality is noticeable.
Finally, a note on this Three Finger guy. The killbillies were truly fearsome in the first film and excellent cannon fodder in the second, but now, this dude is just another cartoonish, indestructible one-dimensional fabrication who laughs and squeals. The convict storyline would have been so much better if it were all out war between the felons and a group of hillbillies.
The Blu-ry is a blessing and a curse. The noticeably enhanced resolution certainly makes this edition of Wrong Turn 3 the one to get, but the clarity bump also amplifies that crap CGI work. Wait until you see the big finale set on a moving truck. Acch. One of the best-looking points of Blu-rays of the series has been the woodsy setting, which looks really nice in high-def. The majority of the action here happens at night, so we're denied premium foliage viewing. Still, it's a nice-looking transfer. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio does its job well, though the score isn't memorable. The assorted aural mayhem is pumped out of the surrounds cleanly and loudly. Extras: a longish standard-def making-of featurette and deleted scenes.
Three Finger has officially overstayed his welcome.
Guilty. Try dating outside of the family next time.
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Scales of Justice
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