You could say the Wrong Turn series has gone downhill ever since the first installment. Technically, that argument would be true. A boring and second-rate premise further desiccated by each installment and destined to eventually become so dehydrated in quality that the DVDs they’re recorded on will be best used as jerky. There are numerous ways to chart the decline of the series: recognizable faces, self-awareness within the genre, relevance to its title or production values. By the time the series reached Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead it had failed in each of those areas leaving “fans” of the franchise wholly unsatisfied.
Police officers Nate (Tom Frederic) and Walter (Chucky Venice) comprise the force escorting a bus full of convicts from one prison to another. They decide to take a side route so as to avoid drawing any attention to a high-publicity convict in their care and consequently end up on the back roads in what we quickly learn is deadly mutant hick territory. All’s not lost, however, as Nate grew up in these parts and has the know-how to lead the survivors after their bus crashes due to mutant hick attack. As the police, a girl who escaped an earlier attack (Janet Montgomery) and convicts (Tamer Hassan, Gil Kolirin, Tom McKay, Christian Contreras, et al.) work their way through the forest, they quickly come under bow and arrow fire from the two remaining mutants of the last film, because to make it a franchise they need to have some sort of continuity. By the time the action begins, there’s really only one mutant, Three Finger, and he’s as much their killer as their own avarice and distrust.
The kills never impress or surprise anyone familiar with the series and take that notion further by actually managing to disappoint. At least two characters meet their end at the hands of a long pole being jabbed through them and the only semi-decent kill, a man being flossed into three pieces, ends with such painfully awful special effects that you have to shake your head. The entire film suffers from a lack of originality or style. Instead of feeling like an autonomous film it feels like the scraps they couldn’t incorporate into the first two pasted together into an unsightly Frankenstein monster of a movie: unwieldy and with no knowledge of how it came to be.
If you can watch the film without rolling your eyes whenever a poor CGI sequence comes up (the most notable being a man “dragged” along the street by a tow truck which reeks of poorly executed green screen), then maybe the writing will be enough to distract you. Whereas the first two maintained a sense of narrative by never being too indulgent to the writer, Left for Dead feels every bit like a screenwriter who thinks they’re being witty by throwing in random bits of film geek talk and “homages” to better horror films. It may seem reverent to have Three Fingers idolizing the head of his deceased, disfigured leader but it reeks of a Friday the 13th rip-off. Or making references to obscure Michael Douglas films and then expecting us to believe that both cops happen to have seen said obscure film? The film seems to know it’s a crappy horror sequel (breasts are shown in all glory by the 3:54 marker) but it seems to want things both ways. Take us seriously and yet let us indulge in a project where the writer gets to flex his geek muscles. It totally destroys any chance of the film being scary or funny and leaves us with a bland nothing featuring horrifically awful dialogue and acting that’s sub-standard even for second-rate direct-to-DVD horror.
Most insulting of all is the title. Left for Dead may be the one film in the series where people actually are actively looking for the people who took a “wrong turn”. But in this case – it wasn’t even a wrong turn. They were very much on their intended route and forced off the road by the mutant in a tow truck. It’s a double misnomer and just compounds the shortsighted nature of the whole ordeal.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
Considering the series has fallen below all levels of horror franchise decency it’s odd to see that someone making the movie thought people would be curious about the behind the scenes action – but they did. We end up with overly-comprehensive featurettes on the mutant Three Fingers, and two pieces on filming stunts, kills and horror. Considering the film isn’t worth watching (unless you just have to know how the final mutants meet their demise) I’m hard-pressed to even say the extra features could positively affect the score of this disc.
"Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead" is on sale October 20, 2009 and is rated NR. Horror. Directed by Declan OBrien. Written by Connor James Delaney and Alan B. McElroy. Starring Christian Contreras, Chucky Venice, Gil Kolirin, Janet Montgomery, Tamer Hassan, Tom Frederic, Tom McKay.