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Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings

Fox // Unrated // October 25, 2011
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 22, 2011 | E-mail the Author
The economy! Tell me about it. Instead of jetsetting to Aspen for a weekend on the slopes like they usually do, this gaggle of horny twentysomethings has to settle for skiing in West Virginia. Whatever. One of
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their pals has a mountain cabin they can hole up in, and all they have to do is...well, get there. Blizzard. Lost. No reception. Oh, but what's that sprawling, ominous looking building off there in the distance? The kids swoop into that abandoned sanitorium to get away from the brutal weather, and...yeah, who needs a cabin anyway? This place has unopened bottles of thirty year old scotch, they throw some kind of wheelchair motor derby, and they have stacks and stacks of medical files of all these inbred hillfolk to snicker at. Outside, it may be 40 below, but inside, it's Spring Break Wooooh!

The only hiccup is that thirty years earlier, a few inbred hillbilly cannibals busted out of lockup, freed all the other nutjobs, and together they mutilated and dismembered pretty much everyone on-staff. Yeah, the inmates took over the asylum, and since the three misshappen mutants who led the assault had a pretty good thing going there, why be in a rush to leave? 'Sides, that's their home. After all these years, they're pretty attached to the place, and Three Finger, One-Eye, and Sawtooth don't take kindly to trespassers. Plus, well, they're card-carrying cannibals, and an all-you-can-eat buffet just waltzed into their living room. They get to defend their property and score a three-course meal. Not a bad deal.

Wrong Turn 3 felt like someone grabbed the script for some faceless USA Original Movie from 1994 and sloppily stapled in one inbred hillbilly cannibal to make it pass as a horror movie. As much as I dug the first two Wrong Turns, the third one chucked pretty much everything I'd come to love about the series right out the driver's side window. Director Declan O'Brien returns for part four, but this time he's also taken the reins as writer. Bloody Beginnings does feel like a Wrong Turn flick, so that's a leg-up over the last one. It's just that I don't think going from the aggressively terrible, borderline-unwatchable Wrong Turn 3 to a mostly mediocre Wrong Turn 4 is
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quiiiiiite enough of a step in the right direction.

Not that anyone strolls into a direct-to-video horror sequelprequel with sterling characterization and masterfully crafted dialogue in mind, but Wrong Turn 4 is kind of a mess even by those standards. Pretty much everyone in front of the camera is stilted and wooden, struggling with even the most routine lines of dialogue...not that the script gives 'em all that much to work with in the first place. And, yeah, of course all the pot-puffing, booze-swilling, horny kids are pretty much interchangeable. Bloody Beginnings keeps the cast pretty big -- more warm bodies to slaughter! -- but that just means they each boil down to one distinguishing personality trait, and that's just about all there is to 'em. Even when I was in the middle of watching the flick, I couldn't have told you one of their names if my life depended on it. Oh, and the aggressively Canadian cast doesn't dial down the "aboot"s even though they're playing kids from West Virginia, but I guess that's kind of part of the charm. Anyway, the screenplay is mostly there to stitch together a bunch of splattery setpieces, and it doesn't aim any higher than it has to. You get lots of clumsy exposition, obvious red herrings like the one guy who disappears so he can leap out and go "boo!" a minute or two later, the whole deal where a dude keeps talking to someone whose back is turned and then it turns out it's a dead body!!!!!!!!, and generally a bunch of stupid people doing stupid things 'cause the movie would be over really quickly if they didn't. There's one sequence that made me cringe and squirm in a good way, but that's about it as far as really stand-out stuff goes...not much in the way of tension, suspense, or scares. It doesn't help that the cannibals' makeup looks so distractingly fake and
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rubbery that it's hard to find 'em all that menacing.

...but, yeah, there's no shortage of splatter. Wrong Turn 4 isn't remotely as batshit insane as what Joe Lynch pulled off in the second flick, no, but there's still some pretty decent stuff sloshed around in here: an eyeball getting ripped out and scarfed down, electroshock therapy-fu, razor-wire drawn-and-quartering, a shishkabob-ed head, a barbwire choke chain, some drilling killing, snowmobile-fu, and something like eighty-two different decapitations. (My math may be wrong on that last one, though.) The movie keeps it mostly practical too, and that's always nice to see. There's one scene in particular that's just...ack. Fuck. The cannibals not only start eating one of those poor bastards alive, but they basically turn the dude into fondue: carving off chunks of him, dipping 'em in oil, and munching on him piece by piece. I'm a lifelong gorehound and everything, but that scene still had me squirming uncomfortably on my couch the entire time. It's the centerpiece of the flick, so it's pretty epic in length too. As often as Wrong Turn 4 misses the mark...ho-o-o-o-o-oly shit, Declan O'Brien sure as hell nailed that.

Wrong Turn 4 was shot in an actual abandoned insane asylum, and that gives the movie a sense of atmosphere they could never have milked out of a soundstage in Vancouver. There are also those Mo Fuzz-style production values with some pretty heavy fuckin', jiggling boobies, and even some sapphic stuff with a lesbian couple. ...and even though most of the girls can't act, at least they're pretty, and that oughtta count for something. None of that really salvages Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, though. Even though I guess I'm enough of a Wrong Turn scholar to have sought out four of these flicks now, this one's so clichéd, riddled with so many "...the fuck?" lapses in logic, cringeworthy dialogue, and excruciatingly bad acting that it needs more than a couple of chicks making out and turning one fucker into fondue for it to rank any higher than a rental. So, yeah: Rent It.

Four movies in, I know, but finally there's a Wrong Turn flick that looks like it belongs on Blu-ray. The first movie in the series is dragged down by one of the worst transfers of however many hundreds of movies Fox has put out in high-def, and the other two sequels look like they were shot on whatever crappy 16mm stock was collecting dust in a back corner of a Big Lots in Sheboygan. Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings makes the leap to digital, and the image is exceptionally sharp, detailed, and silky smooth throughout. I couldn't spot any sputters or stutters in the AVC encode, and no edge enhancement or artificial filtering ever creep in. Its palette is vivid and colorful under the bright of day, and the photography holds up well under low light. I'm not really left with a lot to gripe about this time around.

Wrong Turn 4 is dished out on a single layer Blu-ray disc, and there's no matting or anything -- straightahead 1.78:1.

Wrong Turn 4 is lugging around a 24-bit, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Thundering and cinematic it's not so much, though. The sound design never really seems sure what to do with the surround channels, for starters. Every
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once in a while you'll hear some maniacal laughter, drips of water, or howling wind, but the rears are frequently dead silent. Even when everybody's tearing around on snowmobiles early on, I had to put my ear right up against the speaker to hear any of the engines buzzing or whatever. The surround sound setup is hardly ever used to heighten the tension, with the only thing approaching stalk-and-slash coming at the very, very end as the hillbillies encircle their prey. Even the surround effects in those bits sound hard and forced. The use of the subwoofer is mostly forgettable as well, beefing up the music and a few effects like a decapitated body tumbling onto an auditorium floor, but there's hardly any sort of consistent low-frequency assault. Most of the action is spread across the front channels, and while it's recorded and balanced well enough, there's nothing about the fidelity or the distinctness of the elements in the mix that particularly impress. Competent but not even a little bit ambitious.

There aren't any dubs, but subtitles are piled on in English (SDH), Spanish, and French.

  • Deleted Scenes (18 min.; SD): Kind of a lot got snipped out of Wrong Turn 4, and considering that the movie feels like it drags on longer than it needs to as it is, trimming out all this fat definitely works in its favor. There's a much longer guided tour of the sanitorium in the flashback to 1974, there's a seemingly endless search for Vincent after he vanishes, everybody starts freaking out once the hillbillies are behind bars and they have a chance to breathe, and there's also a whole lot more with that chick who tried to ski her way towards help. Although Wrong Turn 4 is better off with these scenes scattered all over the cutting room four, there's a setup for one death that really should've been spliced back in. I don't want to step into any spoilers by saying more, but I'd completely forgotten about that character in the final cut and didn't even recognize the body until I started looking through this reel.

  • Director's Die-arys (8 min.; HD): A few clips that I guess were making the rounds online serve up a quick peek behind the scenes: lots of stuff in the snow, the making of the first kill in the flick, and a couple of finger-wagglingly spooky ghost stories about shooting in a former insane asylum. Personable, playful, but skewing a little more promotional than I'd like.

  • Making Another Wrong Turn (13 min.; HD): Don't fret; there's a real making-of featurette too. The emphasis is very much on how grueling (and rewarding!) it is to make a movie like this: shooting at minus-48° with the wind chill while the cast is outside wearing T-shirts, how difficult the screenplay was to write, and the creativity demanded when pitted against a threadbare budget and a 19 day shooting schedule. The splatter effects and the stuntmen-doubling-as-actors behind the hillbillies also score a good bit of screentime here. Worth a peek.

  • Lifestyles of the Sick and Infamous (5 min.; HD): Wrong Turn 4's other main featurette touches on the movie setting up shop in an actual insane asylum...a dark, unnerving location that
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    inspired Declan O'Brien to tweak the script to better take advantage.

  • Audio Commentary: Geez, writer/director Declan O'Brien is so earnest and so likeable that I feel like kind of a prick for trashing his two Wrong Turn flicks. I really did enjoy this commentary track, and it doesn't hurt that he has a moderator sitting in to keep the discussion breezing along. O'Brien mentions that the temperatures were so punishing that their stage blood was freezing mid-shot at one point, he points out his big Hitchcock homage, and he has enough of a sense of humor about the whole thing to laugh at the obligatory shot of the kids all checking their cellphone reception. It's not an overly technical commentary, but O'Brien is quick to point out which cameras and which lenses he used to pull off certain shots. It's a commentary with a lot of personality behind it, and I think I can say I liked Wrong Turn 4 more with this track playing than without.

  • Music Video (3 min.; HD): Last up is a video by The Blackout City Kids.

Oh, and a bonus! Wrong Turn 4 also includes a DVD of the movie. It's the first flick in the franchise to be packaged on Blu-ray in a shiny cardboard slipcover too.

The Final Word
I know! All those burning questions you've had about where the inbred hillbilly cannibals from the last three Wrong Turn flicks came from have finally -- finally! -- been answered. Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings is a completely unnecessary prequel that's less bad than Wrong Turn 3 but a hell of a long way from actually being good. I guess it has enough moments to be worth a couple of clicks on Netflix if you're a fan of the franchise and everything, but unless you're a completist, I'd say Rent It.
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