The Wrong Turn Franchise: Ranking the Series from Inedible to Tasty

They can’t all be Friday the 13th, Halloween, or A Nightmare on Elm Street. To fill the void between A-list horror franchise releases, you need some B-list franchises – Child’s Play, Final Destination, or Resident Evil. Even Hellraiser had few decent theatrical sequels before churning out discount bin straight-to-video “hell” crap. And then there are the C-list franchises. This includes the Children of the Corn series, the twenty-something Amityville sequels, and the Wrong Turn series. On May 30, 2003, hillbilly horror movie Wrong Turn surprised at the box office. Though it was derivative of the sub-genre, Wrong Turn had a likeable cast and Stan Winston Studio make-up effects to score fans. Yet in spite of its success every sequel was straight-to-video. To date, the Wrong Turn franchise has six movies and an upcoming remake. It’s slim pickings for this cannibal franchise, but we’ll take a shot at ranking them anyways.

6 – Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009)

To be honest, you could probably lump the middle entries in the franchise in any order – none of these sequels are “good”. But Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead ends up on the bottom of the list for a few reasons. First and foremost, Left for Dead features some of the worst effects in the series. We’re talking lacklustre, CGI death scenes. It’s a hillbilly horror movie – if you can’t get the cannibal gore right, then you have a problem. Another problem is the lack of actual cannibals. For this sequel, only Three-Finger returns, which probably reflects the lack of budget. Poorly paced, unlikable characters, unimaginative, and worst of all, dull – Left for Dead was best left dead in production.

5- Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (2012)

Apparently, Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines fills the gap between the 2011 prequel (see below) and the original 2003 movie. Let’s face it – there wasn’t much to tell. Once you get past Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, the sequels are increasingly defined by poor acting, cheap make-up effects, and awful CGI blood and gore. On each of these fronts, Bloodlines may actually be the worst of the franchise. But it’s occasionally so bad, it’s laugh-out loud funny. And for that reason, it merits a higher spot on this list than Left for Dead. Doug Bradley was probably wishing he was back in the Hellraiser franchise.

4 – Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (2011)

As its title implies, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings is a prequel. It’s also set in the winter. Those two features represent about all of the creative effort put into this sequel. And just how well this prequel fits into the timeline is debatable. Not that you’d want to debate it. Saw-Tooth and One-Eye are back along with Three-Finger, but the make-up effects are a big step down. The cast is made up of interchangeable and equally unlikable characters. You won’t remember anyone’s name and you won’t care if they live or die. But the death scenes are occasionally inspired and the moronic character decisions are frequently funny. Neither of these things makes Bloody Beginnings good, but they make the sequel almost watchable.

3- Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort (2013)

After sequels and prequels, the Wrong Turn franchise opted for a completed unrelated story for its fifth sequel. Borrowing just the title and its inbred trio of cannibal killers, Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort ignores the franchise history. Not that it matters. Everything is pretty much the same. Low production values, poor make-up effects, poor acting, gratuitous nudity, and cannibals – it’s all here. What sets this sequel apart from Parts 3 to 5 is a slightly more interesting story, brutal death scenes, and a handful of genuinely disturbing and perverse moments. Last Resort takes the inbreeding concept a step further with its ideas of “pure blood” rituals. And “Scream Queen” actress Sadie Katz is actually pretty good for a low-budget, fifth entry to a franchise. Her “pillow” scene is one of the creepiest things the franchise has produced. Expect a bleak and particularly yucky ending to this one.

2 – Wrong Turn (2003)

No, the original Wrong Turn isn’t the best movie in the franchise. But for what’s a pretty standard hillbilly horror movie, it’s a pretty damn good popcorn horror movie. It’s never particularly scary, but director Rob Schmidt makes the most of the most generous budget of the franchise. If you’ve watched horror movies … ever … you know what’s coming. Nonetheless, the cabin scene still delivers some surprising suspense with enough gore to satisfy horror fans. Our three hillbilly villains – One-Eye, Saw-Tooth, and Three-Finger – look great, and convincing, for probably the only time in the franchise. Fresh off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Elisa Dushku makes for a great lead in the movie. Her supporting cast is surprisingly likeable, which makes their deaths actually impactful. Poor Jeremy Sisto (May). If the cabin scene is a highlight, the ax scene later in the movie is a close second.

1 – Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

The first sequel, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, is the best movie in the franchise. There, I said it. Director Joe Lynch (Mayhem) and the writing team take the basics from the original movie and proceed to ramp everything up. Like the Texas Chainsaw sequels, Dead End arbitrarily “expands” the cannibal family, keeping fan favourite Three-Finger. But the reality-series premise along with some surprising deaths and actual characters makes this a surprisingly good follow-up. Throw in some intentional dark humour and wild gory deaths, and Dead End is much better than its straight-to-video fate would suggest. Horror veteran Erica Leerhsen (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and punk rock icon Henry Rollins also make up for the lack of Eliza Dushku.

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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