‘WRONG TURN’ (2003) Never Felt So Right – 20 Year Retro Review

Ah yes, the early aughts slashers. Chock full of underdeveloped characters, and horror cliches with disenchanting scripts. – and I ate them up! Twenty years ago, the birth of the Wrong Turn franchise graced us with its presence. It falls under a fun sub-genre of Horror: vacations gone wrong. Plus, you can’t miss with deformed cannibal hillbillies.

WRONG TURN (2003) Synopsis

Chris and a group of five friends are left stranded deep in the middle of the woods after their cars collide. As they venture deeper into the woods, they face an uncertain and bloodcurdling fate.

Wrong Turn is a 2003 slasher film directed by Rob Schmidt (Crime+Punishment (2000) and written by Alan B. McElroy (Halloween 4 (1988). The film stars Desmond Harrington (Dexter (2013), Eliza Dushku (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Cosmic Dawn (2022), Jeremy Sisto (May (2002), and Kevin Zegers (Dawn of the Dead (2004).

Now let’s see the poster..

Wrong Turn was theatrically released in the United States on May 30, 2003, by 20th Century Fox. It grossed over $28 million worldwide against a $12 million budget.

The Setup

Chris Flynn is driving through the country roads of West Virginia on his way to a job interview. Due to a chemical spill on the road, he is forced to find a different route. Chris stops at a run-down gas station and meets an old man. The elderly, toothless hillbilly gives him directions to another route, then shows Chris a map detailing where to go.

Chris speeds to make up lost time then takes his eyes off the road and bashes into the back of a Range Rover with flat tires on the dirt path. The car belongs to a group of friends on their hiking trip: Jessie, Carly, her fiancé Scott, and a couple, Evan and Francine. They first rush to Chris’s aid and then realize both cars are totaled. Jessie finds a piece of barbed wire in the woods that was tied to a tree across the road after their tires were punctured on their Range Rover. She grows suspicious, but not enough to stop her from entering the woodsy backroads for help on foot. Carly, Scott, and Chris join her, while the horny couple stays with the car. *giggity*

A Wrong Turn

As Chris, Jessie, Carly, and Scott try to find help, they find a dilapidated cabin. They go inside the run-down lodge and discover miscellaneous objects: barbed wire, car keys, tourist souvenirs, and -oh yeah, human body parts in the refrigerator and in the bathroom. They begin to panic and try to escape, but they see the homeowners pulling up driving a tow truck with their Range Rover hitched to the back and they’re forced to hide.

Three sinister disfigured mountain men enter the cabin and bring in Francine’s dead body. Chris, Jessie, Carly, and Scott silently watch in horror, as her body is butchered and partially eaten.
As the cannibals take a quick daytime nap after their raw flesh snack -doesn’t seem sanitary ,the friends attempt to sneak out and reach the door but to no avail, When one of the disfigured cannibals wakes up, they make a mad dash for their lives through the woods, hoping to make it out alive.

Wrong Turn (2003)

The Payoff

Wrong Turn is aimed at the hearts of 1970s nostalgia, resembling Texas Chainsaw and The Hills Have Eyes, and featuring a fun eerie atmosphere. Throughout the movie, you get the uncomfortable feeling that the characters are being watched by someone. It’s a classic slasher viewing experience that holds my attention and keeps me coming back to witness another gruesome death.

Shot and directed with an atmospheric color pallet, a fair amount of tension, some grisly kills, and lots of quick nervous cuts, Wrong Turn held where most other horrors that fall into the same sub-genre fail. The aughts were a time of slashers that were all about irony and smartassery. Wrong Turn wisely includes neither. Not to say it doesn’t get a bit campy with cheesy dialogue, but that’s part of the fun in being a fan of the genre. You can even spot a blood-pumping tube device in the death-by-arrow scene when a victim hits the ground. It makes me smile, and I know I’m in the right place.

Wrong Turn (2003)

Wrong Turn (2003) Final Thoughts

Wrong Turn used a recycled plot that’s been used a few hundred times before, which makes the experience predictable. The gore was abundant and the film delivered it with an in-your-face style, which kept me interested. The acting is on par with early 2000s slasher flicks, which is good enough to get the point across. Overall, this is mildly recommended to slasher fans or anyone who wants to gawk at Eliza Dushku for a little over an hour. Wrong Turn had its heart set in the right place and I found it to be an entertaining waste of time.

You can Watch Wrong Turn on PLEX and on digital platforms now. Check out the trailer below!


About Sean Stewart

Father. Husband. Artist. Writer. Horror Fanboy.

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