By Gabrielle Morken (Québec)
Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines is the fifth installment in the series, and serves as a sequel to number four, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings. The latter was a prequel to the first three, explaining, albeit lightly, the origins of the horror, and number five has the killers reunited with their father, and of course, continuing their gruesome killing spree.
When I watched the first movie, I was amazed at how scary it was, and I loved the incredible job that was done with the atmosphere and the tension. The movie traumatized me, and back then, I was already an avid fan of horror. However, I can’t say the same for the rest of the movies, and I’ve always followed them faithfully, hoping to relive the experience. After this latest 2012 movie though, I’m starting to lose hope that this series is ever going to see another fun, scary installment. Now I’m not saying the movie is all bad, it can be fun, depending on what you’re watching it for. But it just doesn’t have that grandeur that the first movie has. I feel that this is important to say for my review, due to the great grounding of the franchise, but this doesn’t mean that there is absolutely no entertainment here.
The premise is simple, as it always is in this type of movie. Five friends travel off to West Virginia to a small town in order to celebrate the Mountain Man Festival, which is a sort of grisly Halloween celebration of a past town massacre, which, of course, include our hillbilly friends’ bloodline. All Hell quickly breaks loose however, when our friends have an accident on the road…soon enough, the five teens are hauled up with the local female sheriff, and attempt to fight off the onslaught of Three Finger, One Eye and Saw Tooth for pretty much the rest of the movie…needless to say, they fail miserably.
I skipped a lot of details, but they’re not very important to mention here, it has to be noted though, that the turn of events that draw our adventure is nicely done, and flows along quite smoothly. No surprises, a lot of lack of realism and while some of it drags on a little, it gets the job done. We’re here to see what we came to see; crazy malformed hillbilly bastards wreaking death and chaos everywhere.
Yes, the hillbilly cannibal boys are back, and as crazy as ever. Unfortunately, what should have been simple, mindless fun is ruined by a lot of things, which frankly, perhaps I should have been expecting but totally caught me by surprise instead.
The movie isn’t scary at all. One of the biggest faults here is that the three antagonists have been reduced from fear inducing individuals to overly violent goofs. There is, of course, a certain charm to crazy hillbillies being somewhat comical in their demeanor, but when they’re nothing but clowns or just plain boring, the effect ceases to work. Hearing Three Finger giggle in the night once or twice does the job, but when that’s pretty much all he does, it’s like, okay I get the point already…now do something scary!
They were handled very badly, and other than Three Finger, the other two barely get any air time. They’re just kind of there every now and then, grunting and hanging around. It would have been nice to have seen the chaos shared around with them a little more. But then, if they did that bad a job with one of them, surely the same would have happened to all of them, a notable positive is the deaths. They’re violent and gory, and they even made me cringe (which for me, in horror, is a rare thing). And I didn’t even watch the unrated version (which is approximately one minute longer than the rated version…). The deaths are cool and extremely sadistic. From a mini combine to a near ritual like feast of intestines, the deaths are pretty imaginative. However they’re not going to save this movie, and there aren’t enough of them to satisfy a viewer who only wants to see gory demises. They fail to add to the tension which is barely non-existent. Essentially, in this regard, this movie feels a lot like drinking flat soda.
Yes, we see what we came to see, as I’ve said…this isn’t a lie. But what of the execution thereof?
I realize I’m spending a bit more time than should be due talking about gore and death, but in a movie like this, it matters, and ultimately in this case it doesn’t save the movie, because these elements don’t connect at all with anything that should make them scary or disturbing. If I just wanted to see gore and sadism, I have plenty of other movies in mind. As should be expected in a general slasher movie, the lot of it is unrealistic. This isn’t always bad, but this one doesn’t even try to make anything plausible.
The sheriff who the main characters team up with does completely ridiculous things, things that no sheriff would ever do, which already destroys the fragile balance between believable fear and inconsistency which so often plagues the horror genre, and which most certainly ruins this one. The big pedestal of the movie’s happenings center around the characters trying to survive, so it’s a real shame that the idea wasn’t handled any better than this. Although I suppose the crew does the best they can, in a town devoid of life and seemingly, any real resource.
The acting of most characters is also pretty choppy, but at least they content themselves with being cookie cutter horror characters, so that works well enough. To be noted is the performances of Doug Bradley, who plays the jailed father of the three maniac sons, and who won’t stop bell tolling everyone’s deaths. It isn’t scary like it could have been, but it’s funny and entertaining. Camilla Arfwedson, who plays the young female sheriff, is also to be commended. Although her character is completely stupid, you can tell she did her best to get into it and make it work. I grew to like her, and felt chagrined just thinking that she might not make it. Sadly, they won’t save the movie either.
If I have to keep whining, and that I shall, out of all the Wrong Turn movies I’ve seen, this one has the worse and most boring imagery I have EVER seen. It’s completely bland, devoid of life and you’d think that would work for a movie like this…now I don’t care that the town is either dead or flowing with life, but at least they could have tried to make it look better than what my grade four school play decors looked like. Ambiance and imagery I think is important in a film like this, because it goes with the feeling of despair and hopelessness it’s trying to create. Or so this is the idea I got. This most especially with the Wrong Turn franchise, which utilizes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre idea when it comes to imagery and settings, and God knows that movie got it right.
However, this coupled with mostly mediocre acting, a piss poor plot execution riddled with nonsense even your little sister wouldn’t believe, and a complete disregard for atmosphere make this movie such a boring mess. I think they’ve been trying a new approach ever since the third movie, but I personally think that if a new approach cannot properly be taken, then stick to the basics, and make it GOOD! The killers are goofs, nothing is scary, and the rest is boring.
The movie has its dimly lighted points; cool murders full of blood and torn up digestive systems, some fun characters, even if they might be fun for the wrong reasons…but there isn’t much else. If anything, this movie is actually a good deal of dumb fun, although I would never recommend buying this, unless you’re a hardcore fan of the series. I LOVE the genre, but this is never going to be in my library unless someone gives it to me. If anything, it isn’t any worse or any better than the last four, but for a series that has five movies, that probably isn’t a good thing. Still, if you’re familiar with the other entries, you’ll know what to expect here. So if you enjoyed all the others, then by all means, pick this one up.
For anyone who is interested, I do feel the need to mention that the movie does a good job of following its own history and mythos, but thankfully for the premise it bases itself on, not a lot of work was needed to achieve this. They probably would have screwed that up too, otherwise. Although I keep reminding myself that the first installment was pure genius, even without that, there isn’t much going on here to satisfy the regular horror fan.
So although I give it a 3/10, there’s much worse than this out there, and I may be the one looking into it too much. But it’s the movie’s fault for attaching itself to a known horror franchise. How am I not to have expectations? Chances are though, it isn’t as bad as I make it out to be, and can actually be a fun time if you’re wanting a night of horror, but more serious fans are probably not going to appreciate this.