Director: Declan O'Brien
Cast: Jennifer Pudavick, Tenika Davis, Kaitlyn Wong, Victor Zinck Jr., Dean Armstrong, Sean Skene
A group of friends head to the mountains of West Virginia for a weekend of snowmobiling and excitement. However, a violent winter storm cuts their plans short. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, the friends seek shelter in an abandoned hospital. Unfortunately, within the walls of the hospital dwell the violent, cannibalistic inbred mutants from the previous films who, years before, escaped from their cell and went on a murderous rampage within the hospital.
While certainly not the cream of the crop, the Wrong Turn franchise has been a pretty reliable source to provide horror fans with brainless entertainment and brutal gore. In fact, the first two films of the franchise may very well be vastly underrated, while the third one, unfortunately, is pretty dull. With Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, the attempt by writer and direct O’Brien is to give viewers the back story of the murderous mutants. However, while opening sequence that apparently establishes this backstory is gleefully mean-spirited and effectively shot, it ultimately amounts to virtually no backstory at all; a very weak introduction to the inbreds is given, and it is certainly nothing that is insightful or satisfactory enough to account for the first three films. Predictably following the opening scene, the viewer is introduced to the typical gaggle of college-aged students who will obviously serve as the main course for the mutants, which presents the film’s first major issue: there are too damn many of them! The previous films, like most effective horror films, had a manageable amount of character and/or were at least able to provide some distinct characterization for each of them. This film spends no time establishing or developing any of the characters beyond making sure the viewer is aware that two of them are lesbian lovers. Beyond that, it is very difficult to distinguish between any of them, leaving no one for the viewer to root for or relate to. Less characters who were actually developed and given personalities would have certainly amped the suspense and tension because anytime the audience cares about the characters, what happens to them becomes that much more important. Here, in all honestly, none of the characters are worth even batting an eye over. Perhaps even more troubling is that even with as many potential victims the film offers, there are still major pacing issues. In fact, this is the first Wrong Turn film that borders on being boring in parts. Most of the victims are dispatched during the last minutes of the film, leaving ample moments where characters are wandering around without much happening. But even these flaws are not the worst of the film’s problems. What sinks Wrong Turn 4 to the bottom of the barrel is an incredibly inane script. There is not another film in recent memory where characters make such stupid, idiotic decisions. For example, a large group of survivors have effectively trapped the mutants in a locked cell. While one (there is always one who is logical) begs and pleads to kill the three monsters right then and there, the others are completely against it for risking “becoming just like them.” Really?? You just watched your friends be brutally slaughtered and happily eaten by these things and you refuse to kill them and instead want to stay overnight and leave first thing in the morning? Other extremely idiotic decisions are made by these already unlikable characters through the film that just aren’t based in any reality. Of course horror films require the viewer to suspend belief and deal with characters making a stupid decision here or there, but this film takes it to an unforgivable extreme. The film’s ending is also eye-roll inducing and does nothing to effectively preface any of the previous films.
It really is a shame that Wrong Turn 4 suffers from a poor script because it is competently directed, though full advantage is never taken of the creepy, claustrophobic setting as much as it could have been (compare this use of setting in this film versus the brilliant Cold Prey and the difference is very apparent). Additionally, the special effects are pretty decent, though this is also the least gory entry into the franchise. Ultimately, the film is nice looking, has great production values, but is a waste of time. So much could have sprung from the previous entries and a great prequel could have been developed. Instead, this one falls completely flat. Suggestion: skip this one and watch the first two films in the franchise.
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