It is admittedly strange to try and say what does and doesn't qualify as a "good time" when it comes to horror movies. Personally, I think there's sort of a "fun house / magic show" aspect to a good fright fest: even if the details of watching some maniacal madman hack up nubile youths are disturbing, the mood is set, things pop out, and there can be a mystery to how the filmmakers pulled off some of their tricks. The parts of Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings that won me over weren't the body count or the brutality, but that the filmmakers made a healthy effort to shake up the formula, throw in some directorial flourishes, and leaven its brutality with a pitch-black sense of humor. I'd even give the Saw series a pass for giving the viewer some wicked moral conundrums to chew on while they watch some gadget grind up a victim. So, when I say Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines is a particularly soulless, sadistic, misanthropic kill fest, it's a criticism of this movie, not the genre as a whole.
A group of friends (Simon Ginty, Roxanne McKee, Paul Luebke, Oliver Hoare, and Amy Lennox) arrive in West Virginia for Mountain Man, a music festival the characters frequently equate to Burning Man. On their way into town, they swerve to avoid hitting a man crossing the road and total their car on a tree. The man, Maynard (Doug Bradley) tries to stab one of them, and the guys are retaliating when Sheriff Angela (Camila Arfwedson) arrives on the scene and throws all of them in jail. The kids seem remorseful, but Maynard does not, telling Angela that she only has a few short hours before his three boys, One Eye (Radoslav Parvanov), saw Tooth (George Karlukovski), and Three Finger (Borislav Iliev) show up and start wreaking their particular brand of havoc.
Declan O'Brien, director/writer of Wrong Turn 3 and 4, once again picks up the reins, but he just doesn't seem particularly interested in this go-around. 3 utilized the forest effectively enough, and 4 had a great setting in an insane asylum, whereas 5 takes place mostly in a single, cramped jail set on a cheap studio backlot, which the editing and blocking turns into a bland geographical mess. Some particularly ambitious shots stood out in 4 (the behind-the-scenes material on that disc even showed the effort put into getting one of them), but there's not a single composition in 5 that makes an impression. Worst of all, while the characters in 3 and 4 were old standbys, like "the is-he-or-isn't-he reformed criminal" in 3 or "badass lesbian" in 4, but the only difference between the five kids in Bloodlines is that Ginty's character is slightly angrier than the others. It's okay for Angela, as the "hero," to be a bit of an everyman, but the only memorable character here is Mose (Duncan Wisbey), a drunk who is let out to help guard the police station.
Wait, I take it back: Maynard is memorable in how obnoxious he is, taunting Angela with the knowledge that she and everyone else in the police station is going to die. It could be fun for a few minutes, but after an hour of Maynard sitting there with a smug grin on his face, ever assured of his success, it becomes grating. It doesn't help that Wrong Turn 5 is a prequel. Yeah, 4 was also a prequel, but that film pulled it off by filling in some of the "character" backstory for the three hillbillies. This time, between the contempt for the characters and the knowledge that the hillbillies can't die or even be seriously injured, there's no suspense or tension whatsoever. Speaking of the hillbillies, they've also transformed this time around, not just from the stuntmen who imbued the roles with some personality last time (the three names here sound like Bulgarian extras), but also into torturers whose desire to eat their victims comes second to their desire to torture them. After two kills in which the boys lazily just run up to the victim and stab them, they're suddenly pulling down cell phone towers, cutting the town's power, burying kids in soccer fields and playing chicken with a combine. I suppose the tow truck means they have all their licenses. At one point, they even build a meat cooker out of a barrel using a power drill, which is odd because they don't even seem smart enough to understand English.
Wrong Turn 5 tops this gruesome concoction off with a general disdain for women. One nameless sexpot shows up just to take her top off (and incite the title, for some head-slapping reason), and the fate of another -- outlined by Maynard but not shown, because there's no need to subject the audience to that -- is alluded to in the ending on top of the other particularly gruesome punishment she's already endured (which itself comes because she's apparently one of the dumbest characters in horror movie history). Bloodlines twists the knife and enjoys it, for no other reason than watching the blood flow; it's a cautionary tale that should remind its creators that the audience wants to identify with the victims, not the murderers.
The DVD, Video, Audio, and Extras
In the past, when I've received Fox's notorious DVD screeners, they've always been of the best version available. When there were two DVDs, a barebones and a special edition bundled with a digital copy for $10 more MSRP, I'd always get the disc with the extras on it (even when the DC and packaging wasn't included). This time, I got a gimped disc, one that seems to be the content from the Blu-Ray's 2-disc DVD / Digital Copy disc. In other words, not only can I not address the packaging or A/V, but the extras are also MIA.
The final disc will include a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, Spanish and French subtitles, three featurettes, and an audio commentary by director/writer Declan O'Brien.
As a longtime defender of the Wrong Turn franchise (and probably the only person who hated the first but enjoyed the sequels), it pains me to say that, budget aside, there isn't really anything redeeming about this entry in the series. It hates its flimsy characters and takes pleasure in watching them all die without any hope of survival, which is less like a funhouse and more like a snuff film. Skip it.
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