WRONG TURN: Revisiting the teenage slasher movies of the 1970s and 1980s, WRONG TURN is a tense, suspense-packed horror film starring Eliza Dushku (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER). When Chris (Desmond Harrington) is late for a job interview, he drives speedily through a backwoods dirt road, and winds up in a head-on collision with a group of teenage campers. As the cars are totalled, the group has no option but to trek through the woods and seek help. Stumbling upon a mysterious cabin, the unhappy campers soon realize they are in grave danger when they happen upon a mixture of grotesque oddities and body parts, soon followed by the return of the freakish inhabitants of the disgusting abode. The intensity builds as the inbred, kill-crazy cabin dwellers go after Chris and the campers, leading to some grisly scenes in the dense woodland, and a series of brutal, bloody set-pieces from director Rob Schmidt.
WRONG TURN takes similar backwoods horror flicks like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE HILLS HAVE EYES as its inspiration, providing visceral thrills aplenty, plus the requisite number of dumb teenage characters. Never lapsing into self-parody, the film should appeal to older horror movie fans keen to revisit the movies of their youth, and younger fans eager to witness some modern-day stalk-and-slash mayhem!
JOY RIDE: Director John Dahl knows his way around a thriller as few contemporary filmmakers do. He revitalized the film noir with his darkly witty films, RED ROCK WEST and THE LAST SEDUCTION. With JOY RIDE, Dahl streamlines the plot and ratchets up the tension. Two brothers, Lewis (Paul Walker) and Fuller (Steve Zahn), are driving home cross-country. Fuller bullies Lewis into using the CB radio ("Prehistoric Internet," Fuller calls it) to play a mean-spirited practical joke on a trucker, and it backfires horribly. The psychotic trucker comes after them, but they get away. Foolishly thinking they're out of danger, they pick up Venna (Leelee Sobieski), the girl Lewis has been pining for, on the way home. The mysterious trucker, whom they know only by his CB handle, "Rusty Nail," goes further than they could ever imagine to exact his revenge. Zahn is pitch-perfect here, capturing both Fuller's charm and his stupid recklessness. Dahl builds the suspense beautifully, creating a real sense of being out on the highway in the middle of nowhere. The script, by Clay Tarver and J.J. Abrams, brings three strong characters to life with sharp, funny dialogue, fleshing out the bare bones of the plot.
SWIMFAN: This teen psychodrama directed by John Polson plays like a Generation Y version of FATAL ATTRACTION. Ben Cronin (Jesse Bradford) is a high-school swimmer with an incredibly promising future. On the verge of securing a scholarship to Stanford, and in love with the too-good-to-be-true Amy (Shiri Appleby), Ben seems to have it all. But a new student threatens to ruin everything Ben has worked so hard to attain: temptation arrives in the form of Madison Bell (Erika Christiansen), a beautiful, sultry cellist whose overt sexuality is too much for Ben too handle. In a fit of passion, he succumbs to her advances, but is immediately wracked with guilt. Trying to eradicate his mistake before it can escalate any further, Ben confronts Madison. To his dismay, he discovers that she has formed an abnormally strong attachment to him. Soon, Ben has been accused of taking steroids, fired from his hospital job, and targeted by the police for trying to kill Amy. With the help of friends, Ben must find a way to expose Madison and stop her reign of terror. Polson's entertaining film is fueled by an amped hard-rock soundtrack and Louis Febre's moody score.
THE VANISHING: Three years after the mysterious abduction of his girlfriend while the two were on vacation, a man tracks down her kidnapper. The abductor, a seemingly normal professor who contacts the young man through the mail, is actually a cold-hearted clinician of terror. When her kidnapper promises to reveal the location of his lost loved one, their confrontation explodes.