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Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009)
4th Jan 10
A busload of criminals find themselves fighting for their lives in the backwoods of West Virginia.
Review Wrong Turn, released in 2003, was a breathe of fresh air for American horror. Rather than tread the standard path of anaemic thrills catering for a PG-13 audience director Rob Schmidt's cannibal mutant flick evidently relished the opportunity to let loose on the gore factor whilst never letting the tension ebb. A moderate success at the box office, it went on to establish great word of mouth and become a bigger hit on the rental market.
Being such a success it was inevitable - given the lack of decent horror franchises about - that a sequel should come about. It did and at its premiere at the 2007 Frightfest much was expected from the audience in attendance and for many director Joe Lynch's Wrong Turn 2: Dead End delivered. For this critic it was a shambolic, cheap-looking mess that didn't hold a candle to the fast paced thrills of the original, with even the gore looking sub-standard. Given that the same fans that thrilled to Joe Lynch's hit-and-miss affair were slating Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead, the appetite for it was lacking.
Instead of rehashing the plot of the first two flicks writer Connor James Delaney has fashioned a third that is part The Fugitive as dangerous convicts end up wandering the expansive woodland that cannibal freak Three-Finger (Borislav Iliev) calls home. In fact it could almost work as a stand-alone given the lack of story-line connections to the other two movies.
Tom Frederic as Corrections Officer Nate Wilson is frankly dismal as the main guy doing his best to stay alive against the hungry mutants AND his escaped bus-load of convicts. He spends too much of his time getting beating up rather than have us warm to him. The female lead Janet Montgomery (The Hills Run Red) as Alex is little better.
Whilst spunky during the impressive opening sequence Alex does little more than irk throughout. Wearing a white vest like the much better Eliza Dushku from the original, does not compensate for the lack of anything resembling an acting talent.
Fortunately the guys playing the convicts on the whole can act, and manage to help anchor the film's drama having us route for them as they look for a way of out their mess. British actor Tamer Hassan, playing the alpha male of the criminal bunch Carlo Chavez, is a much better rounded character. Hassan breathes life into what could have otherwise been a stereotype and due to a script that isn't afraid of being talky, a lot of his decisions hold weight rather than have us groaning at the predictability of it. Elsewhere Tom MacKay impresses as Brandon as a criminal who may not be what we believe him to be.
The notion of hardened criminals going head to head with cannibal mutants bodes well but never really goes anywhere except for a one-on-one towards the end - and where are all the other mutants exactly? Were they off vacationing or something? With two shown at most, there's really little there to spook us here in the woods.
Three-Finger manages to possess a strength that sees him come back again and again from certain death and even catch up with a truck that would have meant him having superhuman speed to do so. It's all highly implausible however it's a franchise and a franchise requires a consistent bogeyman for brand recognition, so killing him off just isn't on the cards. Both Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees had the same ability to keep rising from the grave long before their respective franchises tried to explain it off so let's just go along with Three-Finger being immortal for now.
Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead ultimately does nothing new. It is littered with faults and the rather dubious trussing up of a semi-naked female in barbed wire leaves a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth, given the more absurd nature of the killings elsewhere. That said as far as direct-to-video movies go it's to be warmly recommended for being exactly what it is, a big dumb horror, and there's nothing wrong with watching one of those every now and again.