Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, the third sequel to the 2003 inbred cannibal slasher Wrong Turn, transports viewers back in time to explore the gory origins of antagonists One Eye, Three Finger and Saw Tooth. The original film was no grand production, and Wrong Turn 4 is solidly direct-to-video quality, with lousy actors and a weak plot. No matter, as this franchise didn't reach film four by providing affecting drama. Wrong Turn 4 serves up more of the same darkly humorous cannibal exploits, and actually ramps up the blood and guts.
A short preface finds One Eye, Three Finger and Saw Tooth (played by Canadian stuntmen Daniel Skene, Sean Skene and Scott Johnson, respectively) locked up at a West Virginia sanatorium in 1974. The trio escapes from confinement before starting a riot and killing the staff. The film cuts forward in time to present-day West Virginia University, where a group of friends prepares to snowmobile to a mountain cabin for the weekend. The group, complete with a token uptight jerk, lesbian couple and practical joker, gets lost in a storm and stumbles upon the aforementioned sanatorium. As expected, their only options are to go inside or stay outside and freeze to death, so the affable Mountaineers stumble into the unkempt corridors to drink and screw.
Wrong Turn 4 includes a quick bit of hilarious exposition about how the cannibals are the result of inbreeding in homogenous West Virginia societies before it decides to unleash said cannibals on the unsuspecting squatters. The cannibal trio is apparently protective of their former prison, and the boys quickly return home for dinner. As is the case for the earlier films, the predator/prey chases in Wrong Turn 4 are never particularly suspenseful. Viewers mostly wait in hopeful anticipation that the next kill will be even more gross than the prior.
Director Declan O'Brien, revealed in the disc's behind-the-scenes material to be easygoing and enthusiastic, understands the absurdity of his endeavor, and keeps the proceedings upbeat and bloody. Shane Mahan's gory practical effects keep the film from flatlining, especially shots of a cannibal fondue party and a mid-air dismemberment. The original Wrong Turn is not particularly graphic, so gorehounds will appreciate the prequel's lingering carnage.
Other than its fun gore, Wrong Turn 4 is fairly pedestrian. Character development is neither expected nor provided, and the large cast is actually a detriment to the film. What little suspense there is occurs when a character wanders off alone. Because the characters always seem to travel in groups, the film fails to sustain tension. The filmmakers shot at a real sanatorium, but they never utilize the cramped hallways and creepy operating rooms effectively. Instead of loading the film with jump scares and fake-outs, O'Brien often has the students outsmart the villains, who eventually come back and knock off a few at a time.
I suspect you know what you're getting into if you watch Wrong Turn 4. I'll admit there is something strangely appealing about watching a group of inbred cannibals stalk and devour college students, but this premise is wearing thin. The cast is generic and the scares aren't there, but this prequel adds some nice practical effects and ups the dark humor.
The original Wrong Turn looks awful on Blu-ray, but Fox provides Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings with a solid 1.78:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer on a single-layer disc. Detail and texture are both good, as are color saturation and skin tones. Black levels are decent, which is fortunate considering much of the final reel takes place at night. I noticed a bit of noise in some outdoor shots and the occasional bout of softness, but nothing suggests the transfer was hit with edge enhancement or digital noise reduction.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is solid but mostly front-loaded. Dialogue is crisply rendered, as are the effects and score. Although some louder action effects bleed into the surround speakers, the rear speakers do not quite get the workout they deserve. The track is nicely balanced, and there are no anomalies to report. English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles are included.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings arrives on Blu-ray as a two-disc set that includes the Blu-ray and a DVD copy of the film. A slipcover replicates the striking cover art. The set only includes an unrated cut of the film that clocks in at 1:33:30.
Extras include an audio commentary from Declan O'Brien, in which the director discusses shooting on location, staging the practical effects and getting it all done in only 19 days. O'Brien is a good host, and though I wasn't sold on the film, his enthusiasm is admirable. A set of Director Die-ary's (7:37/HD) provides some nice on-set footage, and cast and crew interviews during Making Another Wrong Turn (12:36/HD) indicate that everyone had fun making the film. Lifestyles of the Sick and Infamous (5:13/HD) is a short piece about shooting inside a real mental institution, and Wrong Turn 4 Music Video featuring The Blackout City Kids (3:24/HD) is as uninteresting as it sounds. A reel of wisely excised deleted scenes (18:14/SD) rounds out the extras.
Unless you are a fan of the original film, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings is a dead end. The film provides more killer cannibal madness, this time with a fresh group of students who take shelter in a West Virginia sanatorium guarded by three sadistic brothers. The plot and cast are forgettable, but director Declan O'Brien ramps up the gore with impressively grisly practical effects. Fox's Blu-ray features solid picture and sound and a few extras. If you're interested, I suggest you Rent It.
William lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.