Movie Review: 'Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings'


We open, as usual, with a quick recap:

Wrong Turn (2003) -- A basic but fast-paced and genuinely effective horror story about a bunch of kids in the forest running away from a trio of mutated psychotic hillbilly cannibals.

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007) -- The series returned (on video) but surprised many by delivering a follow-up full of wit, energy, and more creativity than we'd generally expect from a "direct-to-video part 2." A bunch more. This time it's a bunch of aspiring reality stars who are chased through the forest by the aforementioned mutants.

Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009) -- Not to be too unkind, but here's where the other shoe drops on the franchise. This is a rote, generic, belabored stalk & slash sequel that had me expecting (or hoping) that this was the final chapter. Directed by SyFy Channel veteran Declan O'Brien, it followed a bunch of escaped convicts as they get stalked and murdered by etc., etc.

Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (2011) -- Declan O'Brien is back in the director's chair, but this time he's the writer as well. Whether or not that's good news is your call, but here's a mild surprise: while not up to the unexpected standards of Joe Lynch's Wrong Turn 2, this third sequel does earn a few strong points here and there. The dialogue is particularly inane, and the plot would barely qualify as formula, but hey, fair is fair: Part 4 is better than Part 3. 

As the title suggests, Wrong Turn 4 is actually a prequel. Yep, we now have a (patently goofy) back-story for our favorite (?) trio of tree-lovin' cannibal monsters. And that back-story is (logically) presented by a psychiatrist who runs a massive asylum in which the three (youthful!) mutants are being held. It's no spoiler to tell you that an escape takes place, much gooey carnage ensues, and our mutants high-tail it into the woods.

Flash forward to 2003, which (I guess) plants the events right before the original Wrong Turn, and here are our victims: a large group of ostensibly colorful snowmobilers who end up making a wrong turn (yep, a character actually says it) and find that they have no choice but to hole up in... this giant abandoned asylum that just happens to reside on this mountain. After much ado about several thoroughly obnoxious characterizations (fancy hook: some of the victims are, gasp, lesbians!), the three mutant bastards make their appearance, and the rest of Wrong Turn 4 is dedicated to chase, shriek, slash, stab, scream, stumble, and chew. Lots of nasty cannibals chewing things.

To its credit, Wrong Turn 4 presents a handful of legitimately creative set-pieces of enthusiastic gore. One in the asylum prologue is suitably splattery, and a few in Act III (especially one involving skewers) do a fine job of making one squirm and squeal, while still enjoying some half-decent gore effects. Although many of the more elaborately nasty kills are (annoyingly) peppered with CGI graffiti, there's still some good old fashioned splatter to be found here. (Hey, you gotta judge this stuff on its own goals, I always say.) While not particularly scary, the flick does manage to achieve "creepy" during a few of its quieter hallway wanderings, but really, this series is happy to be an unrated, direct-to-video bloodbath. 

All of which is my way of saying "You're a horror geek; you know you're going to rent it, at the very least. I think it's a marked improvement over Part 3 and there is some fun to be had amongst all the obvious stuff." Your mileage may vary. Come to think of it, the flick feels precisely like an unofficial American remake of Cold Prey. (Which is a movie you should have seen by now if you're considering a PART 4 of something else.)


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