Wrong Turn begins with a tense, understated mountain climbing scene, competently shot and edited. It’s an encouraging start. The credits are comparatively lazy, using a Se7en-esque sequence to flash a bunch of silly exposition – shots of headlines with “Inbred-induced psychosis” etcetera. Yes, it’s one of those: another hillbilly horror film.
Wrong Turn is populated by a surprisingly decent cast (Eliza Dushku, Jeremy Sisto) and, while the context might be hopelessly clichéd, it’s nonetheless executed well. After the first act, Wrong Turn makes the unconventional choice of having the characters actually behave rationally, recognising the gravity of their situation and acting with organisation and intelligence; there’s no “let’s split up, we’ll cover ground faster” here. A character references Deliverance, and that’s essentially what the film becomes in the last half – less hillbilly horror than hillbilly survival.
Unfortunately the early horror setpieces are far more engaging than the subsequent survival stuff. It doesn’t help that the most sympathetic and interesting characters (Sisto and his fiancé) are killed off early, and the remaining pair we get are incredibly bland, without memorable personalities to maintain audience interest. The hillbilly villains are similarly uninteresting, unoriginal designs, who would have been better left to the shadows.