to West Virginia: America's FreakBasket"
Every once in a while there comes along a film so nasty, so mean-spirited,
that it defies all accepted rules of criticism due to its status as a
piece of film entertainment second, and as an attempt to damage the minds
of its viewers, first. Such a film was "Last House on the Left"
(which I first saw at a Little League party immediately after "Dragonslayer"
when I was nine years old, which may contribute to my emotional reaction
to the text). Such a film was "Dancer In the Dark" (which, if
you can look past the manipulative filmmaking, the gaping plotholes, and
the general incoherance of its main character is a lot of fun to look
at: a sort of "Terms of Endearment" meets "Umbrellas of
Cherbourg"). Such a film was "Baby Geniuses".
yes, friends, such a film is "Wrong Turn", the latest in a long-standing
tradition of films in which Hollywood tries to convince us that although
they face perpetual water shortages, constant earthquakes, and the worst
air pollution in the country, it's the fly-over states that we should
REALLY be concerned about. But instead of dismiss the film as an admittedly
shocking and even scary redneck-bash, I decided to dig a little deeper
and was shocked when I found that their may be more going on beneath the
surface. Playing like a rather somber dramatized recreation of the story
of any number of Jerry Springer guests, "Wrong Turn" focuses
on a trio of wacky inbred Americans who like their floors dirt and their
wimmin flayed and roasted. Although seemingly dozens and dozens of people
fall prey to these varmints, they are not of our concern -- Larry, Mo,
and Jedediah are clearly our protagonists, even though they have one hard
palate amongst them and don't have a subscription to Variety. But wait
-- aren't fresh-faced WB teens
Eliza Dushku and Desmond Harrington our heroes? They have teeth! They
were invited to SMG's wedding! Are we really meant to associate with the
cannibalistic Brady boys over the plucked, waxed, and moisturized cityfolk?
Well, let's see. The hero and heroine don't even show up for 10 and 20
minutes, respectively (after two other similarly disposable Dawsonites
have been ... well, disposed of). Then we're treated to a montage of Clampett
family heirlooms, newspaper reports, false teeth -- clearly encouragement
to form a sympathetic attachment in my book.
Similarly, the film continues for a good 5 minutes after the survivors
have left. Apparently they were not essential to the story. Add to this
the fact that these Bubbas are far craftier and more resourceful than
the majority of the "normal" humans (and I use
the term very loosely), and it's fairly evident that the filmmakers actually
preferred them to the stock "heroes" of the story. So why would
this be? Wouldn't that make this film rather subversive, by Hollywood
standards? And wouldn't watching a film such as this leave a not-so-fresh
feeling and a bad taste in your mouth? Yes. And yes.
Which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. It certainly wasn't the acting.
It surely wasn't the parade of Old Navy-swaddled Clearasil kids (had they
not been so hateful, I might have felt a pang of remorse when they were
hacked up and dismantled in all sorts of truly awful ways. I think. As
it was I worried that the mountain men's food might bruise if it put up
too much of a fight.). There were several marvellously creepy sequences
(the trapped-in-the-cabin scene and the Crouching-Yuppie-Hidden-Hillbilly
treetop number come to mind) and some genuinely disturbing gore that hearkened
back to some of the older "Idiots Wandering in the Woods" movies
like "The Final Terror", "Motel Hell", and "Texas
Chainsaw Massacre". The heavy doses of mouth-trauma leads me to believe
that the director is not a pleasure to have in the dentist's chair.
But I digress ... in a twisted, inbred nutshell, "Wrong Turn"
represents a definite return to the winkless, pre-"Scream" horror
of old, where the guy behind the knife is genuinely scary and that's why
you want to hang his picture on your pre-teen bedroom wall. Rob Zombie
should be forced to watch this while his own piece of "hardcore horror"
shit is fed to him on Ritz crackers.