Wrong Turn
3 out of 5 stars
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One of the more entertainingly scary thrillers in memory, this is from the lost-in-the-woods genre, and it certainly keeps us on the edge of our seats. Chris (Harrington) is late for an appointment when a traffic jam forces him to take a shortcut through the West Virginia backwoods. Just as he begins to realise he might as well be on Mars, he runs into a group of friends (Dushku, Sisto, Chriqui, Booth and Zegers) on a camping trip. Together they all discover that they've probably wandered from the main road ... and right into a trap set for them by three violent mountain men (Richings, Robbins and Clark), who are obviously the product of generations of inbreeding.

"Haven't you ever seen Deliverance," someone utters at one point, long after we know what they're in for. There's something supremely terrifying about the fact that people can live right in the middle of America and be so isolated that they can literally get away with murder for years. And Schmidt keeps the tension very high, constantly reminding us of both the isolation and the fact that civilization isn't that far away, really. Meanwhile, the terrific young cast are superb, avoiding most horror film cliches to create characters we can identify with (although the attempts at romance are pretty pathetic). And the monstrous mountain men are horrific, and yet they don't stretch credibility much! This is a zippy little film that gets right in there and gets us grinding our teeth from the jumpy prologue to the requisite coda jolt. It's a rare thriller that actually includes some real gruesomeness as well--they're definitely not catering for the sissy PG-13 crowd here! And it's also rare to find a film that can maintain such terrific levels of tension with irony, human drama and good old fashioned chills.

cert 18 themes, violence, language 10.Jun.03

dir Rob Schmidt
scr Alan McElroy
with Desmond Harrington, Eliza Dushku, Jeremy Sisto, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Lindy Booth, Kevin Zegers, Julian Richings, Garry Robbins, Ted Clark, Joel Harris, Yvonne Gaudry, David Huband
release US 30.May.03; UK 27.Jun.03
03/US 1h25

On a road to nowhere: Chriqui, Harrington, Dushku and Sisto.

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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall