Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Tom Frederic, Janet Montgomery, Gil Kolirin, Christian Contreras, Jake Curran, Tom McKay, Borislav Petrov
Directed by Declan O’Brien
Distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Four twenty-somethings on a white water rafting trip. One lights up a joint. A woman with a nice rack pops her top. Attempted nookie ends in carnage. A rousing start that plays like your typical slasher flick condensed down into a compact five-minute mini-movie. Then the opening credits roll, and Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead makes nothing but wrong turns for the next 85 minutes.
What are you more interested in when watching a Wrong Turn movie: (a) characters getting stalked by an inbred cannibal and having to fight to stay alive or (b) escaped cons incessantly arguing over bags of money, who is going to carry those bags of money, how they are going to get away with the bags of money, and who is going to double-cross the others and try to make off with the bags of money?
This sequel expects you to care more about the latter because the inbred cannibal killing them is treated more as a side nuisance hindering their escape with the money than the primary threat. When you fail to treat a life or death scenario as a life or death scenario, you completely undercut any chance of tension unless you really are on the edge of your seat anticipating when the big skinhead arsonist will finally backstab the others over the money bags.
The cackling “Three Finger” from the previous installments (the only killer inbred this time out – although a second does appear for about a minute) runs a prison bus off the road, unleashing such a stereotypical lot of convict types I found myself longing for the stereotypical horny teens from a few minutes earlier. The prisoners take the guards hostage and look for a way out of the forest. Three Finger kills a guard and starts lobbing arrows their way. One moment everybody is ducking behind rocks to avoid being shot, and the next they’re back standing out in the open showing little concern about the unknown individual in the woods trying to kill them.
They find the lone female survivor from the opening sequence and decide not to rape and kill her because she can lead them to some rafts they can use to get down the river. Less credence is given to her screams about a mutant killer cannibal in the woods than to the rafts she can lead them to.
Once they find a crashed armored car in the middle of the woods, more emphasis is put on the cons infighting over the bags of money found inside it than there ever is about the inbred cannibal.
The criminals even do something that you think would make this a personal vendetta for Three Finger; yet, the script misses an opportunity to change up the dynamics by following up on this incident. Just a bad script loaded with dialogue that sounds like it was written by a 13-year old who confuses profanity with attitude (or Rob Zombie).
The cast is predominantly British, explaining why they frequently let their Brit accents slip through. Trying to sound American might also explain why their acting is more wooden than the trees they are surrounded by.
Taking the directorial reins for this third outing is Declan O’Brien, helmer of such Syfy original movies as Cyclops, Monster Ark, and Rock Monster. If not for the overabundance of f-bombs, I would swear Wrong Turn 3 was intended to be a Syfy original. They even filmed it in Bulgaria like so many Syfy films. Though I would argue the computer effects in O’Brien’s past Syfy endeavors were superior. I’ll take the Rock Monster over the CGI slicing and dicing here.
Nearly every kill is marred by unconvincing digital splatter or practical special effects that are shockingly low rent for a motion picture produced by a major studio, even for a direct-to-DVD threequel. The Three Finger make-up job originated by Stan Winston this time looks depressingly like a latex skin mask pulled over the actor’s face; he looks positively rubberfaced. The embarrassing green screen backdrop seen during a critical climactic scene left me convinced that Wrong Turn 3 was a cheap, shoddy rush job 20th Century Fox produced as an afterthought just to make a cheap buck on DVD around Halloween.
As is usually the case, the Blu-ray looks better than the DVD in terms of picture quality, but that’s pretty much where the differences lie. Both the Blu and the standard def DVD contain a few deleted scenes and three featurettes. An average package at best. No commentary or anything else to merit much beyond a rental for the completists in the group who must see every installment in a franchise.
You only need one finger to give Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead a thumb’s down.
1 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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