DVD Review: Wrong Turn 4 - Bloody Beginnings / Director: Declan O’Brien / Screenplay: Kharen Salonga / Starring: Jenny Pudavick, Tenika Davis, Kaitlin Wong / Release Date: August 27th
If ever there was evidence needed that the backwoods horror film has taken a ‘wrong turn’ in recent years it’s this woeful franchise. Wrong Turn (2003) was a pretty decent, if highly derivative thriller; Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007) upped the bar slightly in terms of originality with its witty reality TV setting, but things took a sharp downturn with the straight-to-DVD Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead and have hit rock bottom with Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings.
Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings purports to be an origins story but apart from setting the main action in 2003 before the first Wrong Turn, it’s just more of the same: clichés and mindless gore, cheaply done. Granted, there is an attempt to explain how the cannibals became what they are but it is all rather desultory: the story opens in 1974 in a remote sanatorium where One-Eye, Three-Finger and Saw-Tooth are patients. We find out how they got their nicknames, but that’s about all (One-Eye poked his eye out with a stick, Three-Finger bit off two of his fingers, you get the gist). Not exactly deep psychology this. Pretty soon the lunatics have taken over the asylum and are tearing apart the doctors and nurses in a prologue that goes on for so long that when the main credits appear you have to gasp because you thought the film was almost finished.
Cut to 2003. After a jarring sequence of clumsily filmed group sex, of which the term ‘gratuitous’ springs to mind, we are introduced to the latest group of hard-bodies who are lining up to be cannibal chow. We use the term ‘introduced’ loosely because there are so many of them, and the girls all look so alike, that by the end of the film you still can't be sure who everybody is. By then of course, most of them are dead, and you won't care, so it doesn't matter. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. This group of cool kids have snowmobiles (did I forget the film is set in Winnipeg?). Clearly these snowmobiles were the most expensive item in the budget because the vehicles are used a lot (even the cannibals have a go – I don’t blame them, it looks like fun).
When a snowstorm suddenly hits – surprise – the group take refuge in the abandoned sanatorium where it turns out – surprise – the cannibals are still living. What happens next is – well, do we really need to go on?
Director Declan O’Brien films all this on muddy video, in medium shots, which gives Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings all the visual élan of an early episode of Home and Away recorded from a television screen on a mobile phone. Forget suspense or shock, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings simply limps through a series of ludicrous (if mildly amusing) gore scenes and well-established generic conventions, or clichés if you will. So, as in the previous Wrong Turns, a battle for survival ensues with the boys and girls trying to avoid being eaten alive.
In one scene a guy is strapped to a table while the skin of his arms and legs is flayed off in small pieces by One-Eye who dips these morsels into hot oil before eating, which prompts the only memorable line in the film, as the victim’s friend shrieks “They’re eating him alive, piece by piece, like some fucked up fondue!”
Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings then falls completely apart in the final sequences as the last survivors manage to break out of the sanatorium, chased by the cannibals on those great snowmobiles. Watch as the sky turns from grey to blue and back to grey again – none of the outdoor footage matches! And then it all flops to a finish with an ending that is so stunningly arbitrary, it simply beggars believe. But, then again, by this point who cares?
Declan O’Brien is currently filming Wrong Turn 5: When Will They Stop Churning out This Crap? Meanwhile you can buy the whole Wrong Turn ‘Quadrilogy’ on DVD - ‘yours to own August 27th’. Save your money and buy a sat nav.