FOX sent me a screener of Wrong Turn 5, but it sat unopened until today, because I wanted to see the film theatrically, as I had with all of the others. Wait, what? Aren't all the sequels direct to video? Yes, but thanks to a partnership with Screamfest, each sequel (always released around the same time as the annual fest) has played for free on one of the festival's weeknight slots. And since I was among the few to see the original film during its theatrical run in 2003, I can "proudly" say that I have managed to see all five of these films on the big screen.
Has it been worth my effort? Well, I really dig the first two a lot, but felt Wrong Turn 3 was an abomination. So when that film's director, Declan O'Brien (Rock Monster, Sharktopus) came back for Wrong Turn 4, I had zero expectations, which is probably why I ended up enjoying it. Not as much as the first two, but certainly a big improvement over WT3, with a decent group of kids, a new setting (an abandoned mental institute during the dead of winter), and some pretty fun death scenes. Thus, when O'Brien signed on once again for the fifth film, I had some slight optimism... all of which went out of the window roughly ten minutes in. I mean, I wasn't crazy about the new location for the festival this year (Downtown LA, instead of the more convenient/food-friendly Mann's Chinese), but the superior batch of films made it easier to swallow every other night. This, however... there's nothing more soul-crushing than going out of your way to see a terrible movie on the big screen when you could have just watched it at home.
But I didn't want that disc to go to waste, so I now present, for the first time ever, a Minute by Minute for a movie that's actually being released on the same day! Feel free to use this recap of each minute to decide whether or not it's worth the Redbox or Netflix rental (spoiler: unless you're a hateful, potentially dangerous asshole, it's not).
00:00 - FOX logo
01:00 - A shot of a car in the woods. Honestly, I was a bit excited to hear that this movie took place in a small town, as the woods locale got played out after three films and the last one, in the institute, worked fine (and still retained the title's meaning).
02:00 - Our hero, Billy, hitting one of the mutants in the face.
03:00 - A shot of the town, with people in it. This is important to note, because in a while they will all vanish. Also important to note - a kid with a huge box of Legos and Lincoln Logs would probably fashion a more realistic looking town than what the set designers have created here.
04:00 - Julian, the fifth wheel of the group, pointing at the sky.
05:00 - Three Finger looking at a would-be victim. The guy playing Three Finger is Borislav Iliev, who also played him in WT3 - it's the first time any of the films have had an actor reprise a role. Not sure being the guy who was in both of the worst entries is something you want to advertise, but at least it shows SOME attempt at giving a shit.
06:00 - The girl and Maynard (Doug Bradley) looking at One Eye.
07:00 - Maynard talking to the girl. If there's one good thing here, it's that Bradley doesn't even pretend to be a normal would-be hero; it's similar to Dieter Laser when the girls first come to his house in Human Centipede.
08:00 - Maynard scowling at the boys.
09:00 - Billy looking at his weed, with the casting credit over it. Three casting people and yet they couldn't find a lead character with a convincing American accent.
10:00 - Julian telling the story of "Mountain Man," which is the inspiration for the festival they are attending. I'm not sure if this is setting up a prequel that goes even further back (this entry is a prequel to the first three; if you're new to the franchise, the chronology is 4, 5, 1, 2, 3), but it's certainly a better story than this movie offers.
11:00 - The group!
12:00 - Maynard yelling at the boys about leaving victims' wallets behind. This scene actually has a minor bit of importance to the franchise - in the first film (again, which takes place later) we see that they do keep all of their ID and money and valuables, so I guess they learned their lesson thanks to Maynard's outburst here. Given Mr. O'Brien's obvious lack of a shit to give (at one point during the screening he began talking to the screen, and also answered questions about plot holes by basically saying "Who cares?"), this is probably just a coincidence.
13:00 - Our two hero cops, including the Claire Forlani-ish sheriff, making small talk while on patrol.
14:00 - Billy and the others, driving along.
15:00 - Everyone getting out of the car, post accident. Most of them didn't have their seat-belts on and the car is rammed up to the windshield on the tree they hit, but none of them have as much as a scratch.
16:00 - Maynard cuts one of the guys.
17:00 - The sheriff approaching Maynard.
18:00 - The sheriff talking to her partner. It's the first of many, many instances in the movie where the sheriff will act like a buffoon and give orders that make little to no sense.
19:00 - The partner falling to his knees after being shot with an arrow.
20:00 - Our heroes inside their holding cells (they were busted for having a brick of marijuana).
21:00 - One of the girls, Lita, pouting about being thrown in jail.
22:00 - Everyone (except Billy) being released from their cells.
23:00 - Two reporters talking before giving a report on the festival. This is a subplot that goes absolutely nowhere; these two are never seen again, if memory serves.
24:00 - The group walking into their motel room.
25:00 - The sheriff calling for background info on Maynard. The theoretic plot of this movie is that the mutants' patriarch (Maynard) gets captured by the police and thus they need to rescue him; a sort of Rio Bravo type thing (there's even a drunk!) - but as we'll see, they make about as much effort to actually get him out as Declan O'Brien did when it came to writing this script.
26:00 - The boys towing away a car.
27:00 - Two of the heroes, Gus and Lita, sitting on their motel bed.
28:00 - A solitaire playing security guard at the power plant, finally noticing the trio of spastic mutants invading his building.
29:00 - Billy glaring at Maynard.
30:00 - The title gets worked into the movie in the awkwardest way possible; a girl says "I took a WRONG TURN - how do I get backstage?" And yes, if there's a such thing as saying words in all caps, that's exactly what she's doing here.
31:00 - "Wrong Turn" girl banging a cop in the car. They don't die and we never see them again, so this is the most extraneous moment in the movie that is itself extraneous as a whole.
32:00 - Billy's girlfriend, Cruz, laying on a bed.
33:00 - Cruz walking down the now-empty streets. Seriously, it's amazing how they don't even try to work this festival into the plot after the first act. Everyone just disappears.
34:00 - Gus and Lita making out.
35:00 - Three Finger finishing off Cruz.
36:00 - Julian wondering where Cruz is.
37:00 - Julian talking to Billy in his cell.
38:00 - Gus and Lita in post-coital bliss!
39:00 - Gus and Lita in post-coital conversation!
40:00 - Now they're making out again. Does this scene ever end?
41:00 - Saw Tooth and One Eye drag Gus out of the hotel room. I should point out that the reason this and the fourth film are prequels is that these two were killed off in the first one, and new mutants were introduced (and killed) in 2 and 3, with Three Finger being the only one to keep surviving. So rather than work in new mutants out of nowhere (or resurrect the dead ones, as if anyone would give a shit), they decided to go back to the original trio in pre-first Wrong Turn times. Sort of like how everyone loved Han so much that they had to make Fast & Furious and Fast Five prequels to Tokyo Drift, except on a smaller, less interesting scale.
42:00 - One Eye looking at a bathroom medicine cabinet.
43:00 - Maynard, in one of his several dozen moments in the film where he makes an evil face and says something cryptic before laughing maniacally.
44:00 - Gus screaming as the mutants beat him with mallets. Part of the problem with this movie is that it's just plain cruel to its characters; when Cruz died early on it worked as a Psycho (or Halloween 5) type bit where the presumed heroine was the first to go, but as it goes on the deaths aren't played for scares or suspense - just vile "shock value" that gives misogyny a bad name.
45:00 - One Eye and Saw Tooth tossing a crippled Gus off their truck.
46:00 - The sheriff approaching Maynard's cell.
47:00 - Billy pointing a shotgun out the window.
48:00 - The sheriff busting up a door.
49:00 - The sheriff picking up gas for the generator. The power is out all over town, but not a single resident thinks to come around asking the cops what's going on.
50:00 - The sheriff gets spooked. I'd love to see her test scores from the Police Academy.
51:00 - The sheriff talking on a ham radio.
52:00 - Teddy! He's my favorite character in the movie, by the way - just some dude who gets high in his basement and talks on a ham radio to whomever he may happen upon. And he's smart enough to know that what the sheriff describes to him doesn't make any fucking sense, so naturally he doesn't believe her. Like the reporters and "Wrong Turn" girl, we never see him again, so this scene has no real point beyond making the sheriff sound even stupider.
53:00 - Billy hugging Lita. Lita is played by Game of Thrones' Roxanne McKee and is thus the only recognizable one in the film besides Bradley. She was also in F, a "hoodie horror" that overcame its obnoxious title to become a pretty solid thriller.
54:00 - Doug Bradley smirking for the 596th time.
55:00 - Billy, a rich college kid jerk, talking down to the sheriff. And succeeding in getting his way.
56:00 - Billy and Julian, armed with shotguns, investigate the empty streets of the fake town. You'd think O'Brien would WANT to toss some extras around in the background, not just to make it more realistic but also to hide some of his horrendously fake looking sets.
57:00 - Lita crying. Can't blame her.
58:00 - Billy and Julian running.
59:00 - Billy and Julian find Cruz's body, still lying in the street because, again, this entire city's population has vanished into thin air.
60:00 - Closeup of Billy's head.
61:00 - Crane shot of the football field. Now, look at how isolated it is - they're clearly a long way from the town. So for some reason, the mutants have decided to take the guys they just captured, drive a few miles away from their objective (Maynard), and take the time to bury one of them up to his head and chain the other to a soccer post. Even for a shitty DTV horror movie, this is one of the most offensively idiotic things I've ever seen.
62:00 - The snow plow, inching slowly towards them. Granted he's buried, but this scene plays out like the steamroller bit in Austin Powers.
63:00 - The plow coming back around (it misses him the first time. Seriously.)
64:00 - Mose the town drunk being given a very important task from the sheriff, who presumably went to the academy, moved up the ranks, etc, but apparently never actually LEARNED HOW TO ACT LIKE A POLICE OFFICER.
65:00 - Mose answering the hero's call.
66:00 - Mose and the sheriff exit, leaving only a known murderer and a young girl inside the police station.
67:00 - Mose driving out of town.
68:00 - Mose, tied up and gagged. Given the prequel nature of this and (presumably) Wrong Turn 6, I hope they actually explain why the mutants stopped toying with their victims and opted for simply killing them later down the road (i.e. in the first two, superior films). Like maybe they're setting up another ridiculous trap and lose a victim, so later that night they have a group meeting and decide that from now on, they will just kill their food when they have an opportunity to do so, rather than fuck around for no reason.
69:00 - Lita and the sheriff talk.
70:00 - Now they're putting Mose into a barrel. They sure aren't in any rush to rescue their dad. And why should they be? It's only the plot of the movie.
71:00 - Lita wandering around the police station, which she might as well run at this point. She's in there more than the sheriff who keeps saying that she can't leave.
72:00 - Maynard trying to convince Lita to set him free. Can't blame him for trying, since his sons are just fucking around instead of doing anything to help him.
73:00 - A few shelves on fire.
74:00 - Lita pointing a gun at Maynard. Whatever you do, don't shoot the guy who is responsible for all of your friends being dead!
75:00 - Doug Bradley smirk time!
76:00 - Maynard picks up a letter opener.
77:00 - Maynard sitting on the sidewalk outside the police station.
78:00 - The sheriff tending to Lita's wounds (Maynard gouged her eyes out with that letter opener).
79:00 - Now the sheriff is holding a gun on Maynard. He just maimed an innocent girl, had his sons kill everyone else, and has been threatening her life throughout the night, but somehow doesn't deserve a bullet. It's like the one police rule she follows in the entire movie.
80:00 - The sheriff triggers yet another one of the mutant redneck cannibals clever traps, which will slice her boyfriend's chest open when she opens his car door.
81:00 - Three Finger dragging the unconscious sheriff.
82:00 - See: 75:00, 54:00, 43:00.... and again, these are the ones that happen to fall on the minute marks, so you can imagine how many are in the film as a whole. And I mean imagine - please do not confirm my claim by renting or buying this shitpile.
83:00 - And again.
84:00 - Maynard talking to the now tied-up sheriff about her options - she can either burn to death in the fire he just set, or blow her own head off with the rigged gun he just attached to her torso. Real great movie for your Halloween party, huh?
85:00 - A blind Lita wandering down the road crying for help. If you've never seen a horror movie before, you might be surprised at who picks her up. And if you've seen every movie ever made, you would still be unable to explain why their truck is coming from the opposite end of the road, since they were both coming from the same place.
86:00 - The closing shot, our heroine being carted off into the night by a man who threatened to gang rape her with his sons before cutting her breasts off. Real fun stuff. I mean, obviously the three mutants survive because they're still around in WT1, but why is Maynard still alive? The movie could have at least given one minor bit of triumph for the heroes by killing him off, but no, he gets away and now plans to rape our one survivor. Similarly, why don't they create a new mutant to kill off? Since Bradley's around, let's compare to Hellraiser - each entry had new Cenobite designs to enjoy, creating a revolving group of sorts. Why don't they do that here? There's nothing particularly compelling about Saw Tooth or One Eye anyway, so create a new brother or two (as they did in WT2) and kill THEM off, giving the movie SOME kind of victory for the protagonists without breaking the continuity.
87:00 - A batch of very slowly running credits, mostly production design, which I'm shocked to discover actually had a crew of more than one considering how terrible it looked. Being a Bulgarian production, it's fun to go through and find names that do not end in "V" (or "VA"). On this screen, there is one.
88:00 - Five.
89:00 - The song credits, featuring bands I've never heard of and probably never will again, though the first song on the credits is from The Blackout City Kids, who composed a title track of sorts (simply "Wrong Turn") for the last film. Decent band.
And that's it! The movie ends at 1:29:56.
At a glance, most people probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between any of the sequels. The first is the only one that was really trying to make a scary movie; all of the followups have elements that are being played for laughs, and have been met with varying degrees of success (though it's worth noting that Wrong Turn 2 has a much higher IMDb rating/Rotten Tomatoes score than the other sequels). But if you watch them all back to back, you'll see that this one is the only one that is just plain nihilistic; the deaths are still played for laughs, but they're coming in between scenes where nice characters are disemboweled and left on the street, or threatened with rape. And the others actually had some sense of movement - the characters would go from A to B and get offed along the way, so there would at least be some sense of excitement, as opposed to here where it's mostly just people sitting around acting like idiots. There has to be some sort of balance between the mean-spirited "funny" bits and an actual movie, with stakes and a character or two to care about and maybe even ONE scene where a villain is harmed. I know there are times when you feel like rooting for Jason or Freddy, but this is the rare film where the director seems to actively hate the idea that someone might root for his heroes.
In short, 89 seconds of this movie is all you need to "see." Please find something else to watch this week, and for the rest of your life. And FOX, please find someone new to make these movies, should you continue the franchise. There are filmmakers who can come in under budget and deliver money shots, but also make a movie that will result in people WANTING more of these things.