(Originally posted on 2/10/04)
Now here’s some suburban paranoia about rural America for you. In the wretched Wrong Turn, homicidal mutant cannibals in the West Virginian backwoods hunt pouty Eliza Dushku and her group of Abercrombie & Fitch buddies, with the unavoidable implication being that rural America is nothing but a breeding ground for monsters intent on defiling pristine Anglo-Saxon teens. Grunting and cackling as they bludgeon and impale their victims, the fiends -- who, done up in silly prosthetic masks, resemble overgrown "Fraggle Rock" rejects with severe hygiene deficiencies -- have no discernable motive except to slaughter humans for their bone and gristle stew, and thus any attempt to discuss them as elemental forces opposed to the encroaching wave of modernity is probably a stretch. The film is, at heart, merely the latest pathetic progeny of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to replicate the scenario of Tobe Hooper’s classic while failing to imbue it with any (conscious) political subtext. Sex-obsessed pot smokers are the first to go, while Desmond Harrington’s blank stud and Dushku’s heroine -- recently dumped by her boyfriend and, thus, virginal by horror movie standards -- successfully make it back to civilization with the knowledge that inhabitants of the country’s red states are gruesomely evil. Wrong Turn is headed in only one direction: straight into the toilet.