Declan O'Brien returns as director for a fifth installment in the 'Wrong Turn' series, having already done the last two, 'Left for Dead' and 'Bloody Beginnings.' This also marks his second time writing original screenplays for the franchise, and it's apparent he's having a blast expanding a mythos around the three crazed, hillbilly cannibals Three-Finger, Saw-Tooth and One-Eye. O'Brien throws together several surprises, one of which is, of course, that no one could have predicted the original 2003 movie with Eliza Dushku to last this long, but it has, albeit as direct-to-video releases. The other surprise is the movie is actually being pretty good and entertaining, making it one of the better entries since the original.
The movie picks up some time after part four, which interestingly means that 'Bloodlines' is a sequel prequel. Or, should that be prequel sequel? Well, whatever you want to call it, the plot fits snuggly between the last and leading up to the first. (I can't think of any other franchise that does this, unless we want to include the second 'Star Wars' trilogy into this new possible category.) The point is that this is another origins story, showing fans how the inbred brothers are taught to hunt and survive in the Appalachian Mountains after running away from the Glensville Sanatorium. And more importantly, something we hadn't seen before, these boys know how to raise hell when wreaking havoc upon a small town.
Their teacher — and this is one those fun, quirky surprises which make the movie pretty entertaining — is none other than Doug Bradley, which horror fanatics everywhere will instantly recognize as the Cenobite leader Pinhead from the 'Hellraiser' series. He plays the role of Maynard, the mean-tempered and abusive relative (his relation is never entirely clear) who also has some of the best lines. While sitting in a jail cell, waiting for his boys to come and get him, he taunts and threats the local sheriff (Camilla Arfwedson) who arrested him. He's a creepy old kook with a menacing, bloodthirsty stare that makes her and two other inmates nervous as mayhem spills onto the streets outside. I half expected him to sooner or later say, "We'll tear your soul apart," just for shits and jiggles.
O'Brien sets this fourth sequel (second prequel?) in the middle of a fictional tourist celebration called Mountain Man Festival, compared by several characters as the Burning Man Festival of the east. But rather than having the mutated inbred siblings chase after their trouble-making, sexually-promiscuous fodder through the forest, the director cleverly designs an 'Assault on Precinct 13' type of scenario where one of five college friends (Simon Ginty) is locked up for drug possession. The boys are coming after their father, and they're not breaking in as much as those trapped inside the police station are stupid enough to come out. The kids are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is where the movie really surprises and makes for an enjoyable time. Granted, this is the furthest from great horror, but at least it's engaging and a good deal of fun.
Part of this is due to O'Brien bringing back the wickedly fun dark sense of humor in designing elaborately creative kills, the sort we used to see much of during the 1980s era of the slasher. The brothers have never been as twisted and disgusting as they are here, taking lots of pleasure is torturing and killing their prey in a variety of inventive ways. Three-Finger, in particular, delights in disemboweling one person and playing with their entrails. Later, he mows down another pair with a motorized, spiral-blade lawn mower. A car is also turned into a death trap when the door is opened. It's pretty ghastly and a bit perverse, but the shocks are meant for laughter, not frights. Although very workmanlike, O'Brien does a good job behind the camera, delivering one of the better entries in the series.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings 'Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with an attractive slipcover. Sitting comfortably on opposing panels, the first is a Region A locked, BD50 disc while the second is DVD-9/Digital Copy combo. After a couple skippable trailers, viewers are taken to a standard main menu window with full-motion clips and music playing in the background.
'Wrong Turn 5' makes the right turn with this excellent 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, which appears to have been taken directly from an HD source. The presentation has that unattractive digital, daytime-television quality to it, but overall, it's consistent and free of any distracting artifacts.
The 1.78:1 image comes with strong, deep blacks, which add a bit of depth. This pays off quite well since a majority of the movie takes place at night. Low-lit interiors are never comprised, allowing for plenty of visibility of background information. Contrast levels are comfortably bright and stable, except for one or two negligible moments of blown highlights. Colors seem a tad on the flatter side, but they're generally upbeat and accurately rendered. Fine object details and textures are sharp and distinct with healthy flesh tones, but the high-def transfer is ultimately not of the knock-your-socks-off variety.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is also a great complement to the strong video. The presentation is bit front-heavy, but discrete effects are employed during a number of sequences, especially when the brothers are taunting their victims. With flawless panning and movement, directionality is excellent and comes with a few subtle atmospherics for the quieter moments. Claude Foisy's score also bleeds into the back with ease, extending the soundfield and creating a satisfying environment. Imaging in the front is wide and engaging with a surprisingly extensive mid-range that remains sharp and detailed during the loudest segments. Low-frequency effects are highly-responsive and palpable with several scenes which pack a serious, wall-rattling punch. Vocals are well-prioritized throughout and never drowned by the action.
Declan O'Brien returns for a fifth installment in the 'Wrong Turn' series and manages to surprise with shocks and a dark sense of humor. Featuring the acting of horror icon favorite Doug Bradley, the movie is one of the better within the franchise. The Blu-ray arrives with an excellent audio and video presentation while supplements are pretty meager but easy to digest. Overall, fans will be pleased, and others with a stomach for it will want to give it a rent first.