I wasn’t a big fan of Rob Schmidt’s derivative 2003 backwoods mutant slasher, Wrong Turn. I just found the flick really plodding, uninspired, and, barring a couple of admittedly nifty kills, I just didn’t feel it brought anything new to the genre. It was, however, a very polished flick, and featured a solid cast, some nifty camera work, and a few effective scares. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, on the other hand, entertained the heck out of me with its ultraviolent skewering of both reality television and the backwoods cannibal genre as whole, resulting in a film that was funny, sexy, and gory as all get out, but, ultimately, as frightening as a basket of kittens.
When I’d first read the synopsis for Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead, it sounded like a happy medium between the first two films, with the potential to merge the visceral qualities of the original with some of the twisted sensibilities and black humor of the sequel.
Sadly, no such potential is realized.
Wrong Turn 3 opens with four really bad actors riding the rapids through West Virginia back country. The group opts to camp on the shore, and, within minutes of dragging their boats out of the water, two of said bad actors decide they’d like to fool around, leaving Alex (Janet Montgomery) with no choice but to wander off by herself (her “mate” is presumably not interested in such things). No sooner does the other actress expose her ample bosom do they find themselves under siege by a cackling madman firing arrows at them from the tree line. While her friends are sliced, diced, and prepped for dinner, Alex (Janet Montgomery) slinks off into the woods, thankful that she has marginally better acting skills than the other three, thus insuring her return later in the film.
Meanwhile, prison guard Nate (Tom Frederic) is forced to spend his last night on the job overseeing a last-minute transport of a group of high profile inmates to another penitentiary. It’s a top-secret mission as one of the prisoners, Chavez (Tamer Hassan), is a well-connected drug lord, so the U.S. Marshalls have instructed Nate to take the back roads to the prison in hopes of thwarting a rumored escape attempt. All goes according to plan until the bus is forced off of the road by a pickup truck driven by the aforementioned cackling madman (who we now see is returning mutie, “Three-Finger”, looking like a cross between Freddy Krueger and Frank Perdue). After Nate rescues the prisoners from the flaming wreckage of the bus, Chavez manages to steal his weapon, and he forces Nate to lead himself and the other prisoners out of the woods (Nate, you see, was raised in these parts). Shortly thereafter, Nate and the prisoners are attacked by a pint size mutant – apparently the son of the creep who drove them off the road – and Chavez decides to send the hillbilly a message by decapitating the boy and placing his head on a stick. This, of course, sends the mutant into a murderous rage, and…well…nothing really. I mean, he was planning on killing them all, anyway. Now he ‘s just mad about it, I guess.
Eventually, Nate and the prisoners meet up with Alex, and the group spend the rest of the night walking around in circles while the hillbilly methodically picks them off. Oh, and they also find an old armored truck filled with money, apparently for no other reason than to give Nate the chance to utter a few laughable profundities about greed.
Shot in Bulgaria, Wrong Turn 3 is a cheap, joyless affair that has virtually nothing going for it save for a few creative kills. Sadly, even these are compromised by shoddy CGI effects and Declan O’Brien’s rather flat directorial style. While the screenplay by Connor James Delaney is riddled with clichés and laughable stereotypes (we get the Nazi prisoner, the Latin crime boss, the soldier who killed someone in self-defense, et al), the real problems lay with those reciting the lines, as the predominantly British cast just doesn’t cut it. While Montgomery and Frederic do an admirable job of disguising their accents, most of the other actors don’t fare nearly as well, especially Hassan, whose Chavez sounds like a cross between Tony Montana and Vinnie Jones.
Fox brings Wrong Turn 3 to Blu-ray in a decent 1.78:1 transfer that, initially, looks pretty damned good. The opening rafting sequence is crisp and vivid, and detail is quite strong, but, as darkness falls, so does the quality of the image. I’m not quite sure how to describe it other than to call it “drab”. Blacks look washed out, colors seem desaturated, and there’s a bounty of compression artifacts and digital noise.
The DTS HD 5.1 soundtrack, on the other hand, is quite impressive, with very full and aggressive bass, and nicely implemented spatial effects. Dialogue is crisp and up front in the mix, while environmental sounds, like rustling leaves and trickling water, sound lush and organic.
The Blu-ray features a smattering of extras, most of which are presented in standard definition (including some of the trailers, oddly enough). The main feature is a making-of documentary entitled Wrong Turn 3 in 3 Fingers…I Mean Parts, and is broken into three short segments including Action, Gore, and Chaos, Brothers in Blood, and Three Finger’s Fright Night. It’s borderline EPK stuff, but the cast sure did look like they had a ball making this one. I just wish we saw their enthusiasm in the final product. Rounding out the extras are a collection of HD and SD trailers for other Fox releases.