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Saturday
Jun142003

Movie review: Hard Left

So imagine this scene. A desperate writer is in a movie executive's office and he has sweat running down his face. The executive has said no to every movie idea so far. He didn't like the poignant coming-of-age tale of two boys who run away while on a family vacation in Italy. He didn't like the Romeo-and-Juliet-esque story of a young couple torn apart by family squabbles.

What he was about to do next would haunt the writer forever. He'd never be able to look in the mirror and take himself seriously again.

"Screw it," he thinks. "I have to pay the rent."

He paces for about ten seconds, building up momentum for this new idea -- the idea that he will cry about later, when he realizes this movie is all his fault.

"What about a band of mutant inbred rednecks in the hills of West Virginia?" the writer says. "They kill people for no good goddamn reason."

"Brilliant!" the executive shouts, leaping up from his leather chair to pat the writer on the back. The writer chokes back a sob.

This is what I imagine the scenario must have been in the beginning stages of the movie "Wrong Turn." The writer had to have been desperate for the paycheck and the executive who bought the script had to have been high.

Though the writer above pretty much summed up the plot already, let me give you an idea of what this movie is about. This med student Chris is on his way to some big important interview in Raleigh. We never know what this interview is for, just that it's important. The interstate is closed off by a big truck accident and Chris is desperate to keep moving. A brief encounter with a truck driver shows us that, gee, Chris sure is a reasonable, levelheaded guy.

Chris goes to a gas station and sees on a map that there's a dirt road that runs in the hills near the interstate that will probably take him around the accident. So, smart, levelheaded med student Chris takes his vintage Mustang and goes driving down an unfamiliar dirt road. While fumbling for a dropped CD, Chris rear-ends an SUV that's stopped in the middle of the road. That, folks, is the biggest tragedy of this movie -- the Mustang was a really nice car.

The SUV's passengers are a group of five friends, conveniently Chris's age, who are on a camping trip to cheer up Jessie after her bad breakup. Jessie establishes herself early on as "the tough chick," capable of handling difficult situations. Do I sense a stale, unbelievable romance budding in the air? You betcha.

It's then revealed that the SUV's tires were blown out because barbed wire had been left in the road. Rather than realizing they're in a horror movie and just killing themselves on the spot -- which would have been a more satisfying resolution to the movie -- the protagonists decide to search for help.

And so the terror begins. Bwa-haa-haa-haaa.

Two of the good guys stay behind with the vehicles to smoke weed and have some sex while the others wander off in search of benevolent hillbillies with a phone. I'll let you guess what happens to the ones who stayed behind.

Jessie, Chris and the other two -- I'm not going to bother with the rest of the names, since it's obvious from the beginning that they're destined to be redneck food -- find a cabin in the woods, surrounded by junk cars and buzzing with flies.

Being the valiant knight that he is, Chris volunteers to go inside and look for a phone. The others follow because one of the girls really needs to pee. For some reason, she feels a dirty, smelly cabin is better than squatting behind a tree. About the time they realize this cabin's residents like to store body parts in the fridge, the rednecks, of course, come home.

What follows is about an hour of gore that involves genetically mangled faces and slaughtered college students. There is one amusing moment when a cackling redneck gets flung from a tree. The rest is just the same old horror movie tripe.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like silly, stupid horror movies. I mean, I'm the one who paid $25 to see it -- that's after you add in snacks and a movie ticket for my husband. This movie was worth every penny, in terms of entertainment value. I don't laugh this hard when I go to see comedies.

I'm just amused by a movie that make no attempt whatsoever to explain why those mutant rednecks were in the woods in the first place.

"What about the newspaper clippings in the beginning?" the writer protests weakly. "They talked about inbreeding."

Give up, writer. You know your movie was crap.

Yeah. Inbreeding. It seems to me that you probably can't breed without women, and there didn't seem to be any women in that cabin, except for the dead ones. Well, it's possible the skinny, high-pitched redneck was a woman, but it was hard to tell with just four strands of hair on its head, three teeth its mouth and skin that was apparently modeled after Freddy Krueger's.

Anyway, I give the movie a C+. It gets the plus because it made me laugh and it briefly had a cool car in it. I also have to give it a little credit because I'm amazed at their ability to somehow make an 84-minute movie seem unbearably long.
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