Before we begin with the review of Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines, let's begin, as usual, with a quick history lesson:
2003 -- Wrong Turn, a horror film about some unfortunate young people who run afoul of some vile backwoods hillbilly cannibals while traveling through the West Virginia woodlands, does pretty decent business for a "no-name" horror flick (it grossed about $28 million in North America) but went on to become a big renter at the video stores as well as a heavy-rotation cable TV favorite. The movie has a strong cast, some solid tension, a few nasty shocks, and a bunch of great practical effects from the late Stan Winston and his cohorts.
2007 -- Wrong Turn 2: Dead End premieres on DVD, and while it lacks the appreciable "seriousness" of its predecessor, this "DTV" follow-up turned out to be a lot more amusing than any horror fan could reasonably expect. In this one the backwoods hillbilly cannibals descend upon a group of dummies who are producing a "reality" TV show out in the forests of West Virginia -- which really is a nice place. Don't trust horror flicks when it comes to vacation destinations.
2009 -- Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead hits the video shelves, and it sure looked like this would be the last whimper of this particular franchise. In this chapter the backwoods hillbilly cannibals who make West Virginia look bad butt heads with a bunch of recently-escaped prisoners. If the first two Wrong Turns were slightly better than they looked, then Part 3 is every bit the budget-slashed, shot in Bulgaria, keep the franchise afloat sequel that most franchises try to avoid.
2011 -- Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings is, as the title cleverly suggests, a prequel that explains (get this) why the backwoods hillbilly cannibals are impervious to pain. Hoo boy. Sarcasm aside, WT4 is actually a marked improvement over Part 3, in that it's still really cheap but it has a bit more energy, and (as is often the case) a prequel allows a horror fan to build a "mythology" of sorts for the three lunatic cannibals who simply love to kill people in West Virginia. (This one was actually shot in Manitoba.)
2012 -- Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines, and let's give Fox Home Entertainment a little credit for at least sticking to the chapter numerals. The Underworld and Resident Evil sequels are clearly too good for numbers (numbers are so nerdy), so it's nice to see a "5" in there just to keep things organized.
Long story short: writer/director Declan O'Brien is back for his third consecutive Wrong Turn sequel, and if you're a big fan of the broad and goofy, yet plainly nasty, gore-splatterings that ran rampant through Left for Dead and Bloody Beginnings, then you won't have much trouble enjoying bits and pieces of his Bloodlines entry. It's not a particularly good horror flick, even on the sliding scale we'd need to evaluate "Part 5s," but it does deliver on its very meager promises: three backwoods hillbilly cannibals kill a LOT of people. Not on a reality show or in an insane asylum, but ... at a small town "Mountain Man" festival that "celebrates," you guessed it, the legend of the backwoods hillbilly cannibals.
As eventual victims we get five young idiots and some small-town folks like a reporter, a sheriff, and a drunkard, who must hole up in the police station when the three villains decide to break a distant relative out of jail. So, for those keeping score, in this Part 5 we have a Rio Bravo / Assault on Precinct 13 framework (one that never really takes off, sorry to say), a slasher flick, and a very dark comedy at the same time. Let's be frank: the Wrong Turn sequels are little more than garish, leering, Grand Guignol set-pieces that need little more than a flimsy narrative on which to rest its decapitated heads and oozing entrails.
Judged on that standard, there's some pretty fun stuff to be found in Wrong Turn 5 (I especially enjoyed the thresher sequence), but as is often the case with films that are created as "kills" first and "plot" second (or third), the viewer has to suffer through a bunch of tiresome nonsense to find the rewards. It's not that this particular batch of dumb youths is any better or worse than what you ALWAYS see in horror sequels, but that the screenplay has little to offer besides the slightly "meta" Mountain Man festival stuff, and it's a plot device that doesn't work all that well. For example, whenever somebody sees the trio of cannibal freaks, they yell "hey, nice costume!" or "I'm so tired of you crazy Mountain Man festival people!" In other words, nobody is scared of the three monsters.
Meanwhile, back in the "police station under siege" segment of the movie, very little happens, aside from the killing of some of the film's running time, but we frequently jump back to a random murder or one of three amusingly pointless sex scenes -- all of which is just a bunch of wheel-spinning meant to keep us awake until the crazy carnage moments pop up. And, to be totally fair, Wrong Turn 5 has three or four set-pieces that are almost ridiculously nasty and gory. Notice I didn't say "scary." Given that the three allegedly horrific villains do little besides mumble, grunt, cackle, and giggle, they're more like annoying children than imposing figures of menace. Horror fans may like to know that Doug Bradley (yes, Pinhead himself) appears in the flick, but he's given little to do besides rant and rave from inside a prison cell, so the novelty wears off pretty quickly.
We'll be back next year for Wrong Turn 6. In the meantime, Part 5 has little in the ways of production value, logic, or subtlety -- but still, it's mega-gory, slightly funny, and the body count is pretty dang high.