It would be pretty difficult to dispute the fact that there are just too many sequels and remakes around these days, whatever genre they fall into. It would also be difficult to argue that the majority are poor and that some are just simply awful. With that in mind the odds of any film series reaching its fifth instalment and maintaining a high standard is slim, so Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines is up against it from the start.
This episode is written and directed by Declan O’Brien who has helmed the series since Wrong Turn 3 and also takes writing credits on Wrong Turn 4, which was an origins story. This film follows on from the events of 4 and is, chronologically speaking, a second prequel to the original production.
So is it any good? Every year on Halloween the town of Fairlake, which has a mysterious and macabre history, plays host to the Mountain Men music festival. Hundreds of teenagers descend upon this small West Virginian spot in fancy dress for sex, drugs and rock n’ roll and Billy (Simon Ginty) his girlfriend Cruz (Amy Lennox) are no different. Along with their friends Gus (Paul Luebke), Julian (Oliver Hoare) and Lita (Roxanne McKee) they are heading to the event when, and this all happens pretty quickly, they nearly run over a strange man in the road, crash their car, get into a fight and finally get arrested as Billy just happens to have in his possession enough drugs to cater the entire festival.
At the local jail Billy persuades the sheriff (Camilla Arfwedson) that the drugs are all his and to release his friends, which she agrees to as she now has a bigger fish to fry. The strange man in the road who was also arrested just happens to be wanted fugitive Maynard Odets (legendary Cenobite Doug Bradley) and all she needs to do is babysit him until the US Marshalls arrive the following morning. The problem is that Maynard’s “family” just happen to be the 3 inventively murderous and hideously deformed hillbillies of the previous instalments and they want to get him out. Cue horrible deaths, strange shrieking laughter and more blood and guts than you could possibly need to see.
I must confess right now that I have a soft spot for the series. The original film was a pretty good interpretation on the horrible hillbilly myth and while the second film was terrible, the others have carried the Wrong Turn torch reasonable well. O’Brien has proved he can create the seemingly endless number of gory deaths required in order to keep the franchise ticking over and isn’t at all afraid to push the boundaries of taste to their absolute limit. The problem with Wrong Turn 5 though is that it just felt a little too contrived.
The plot has more holes in it than one of the inbred family’s victims and the narrative that there is exists solely in order to move the action from one set piece to the next no matter how slightly preposterous that might be. The relatively unknown cast vary between slight blandness to ridiculous overacting and you just don’t care whether they live or die; although knowing that this is a prequel to the first film you already have a pretty good idea that the bad guys might make it. The strong point is Maynard who, in a nicely original touch, menacingly articulates the evil to the other characters rather than just chasing them with an axe. It is, however, difficult not to smile while watching Wrong Turn 5.
What O’Brien has created here is live action comic book horror. The film’s saving grace is that it just doesn’t take itself too seriously and you will find yourself forgiving its many flaws and focussing on its good points. The Wrong Turn franchise promises blood and gore; that’s here by the gallon. The Wrong Turn franchise promises original ways to kill off annoying teenagers; absolutely and more horrible than ever. The Wrong Turn franchise promises some exploitationesque sex; definitely, and much more so than in previous episodes!
So if it’s a Saturday night popcorn horror you’re looking for then you could do a lot worse than this. Whether you enjoy it or not one thing is certain, Wrong Turn 5 does exactly what you expect.